Sharon Lock | Tales To Tell
Excerpts from Sharon Lock’s blog
We were visiting hospital dietitian S’s family in Al Fukhary. They all fled their home during the attacks, except for S’s dad who stayed behind to confront the tanks. And literally did – S shows us where the tanks got to: the back garden. At this point, his dad went to the back door and looked the solider in the tank in the eye. The soldier in the tank looked back. And then he turned the tank around and left. I guess Abu S has one great stern look.
As we are leaving we pass several houses totally destroyed, in amongst houses still standing. Why these houses? Nobody knows. A kindergarten is also destroyed, and there is no logic in that either. We notice that all the road ways are planted with dense cactus, and speculate if they are deliberately planted to obstruct border-originating bullets. They look fierce enough to do it. At S’s family land, near the border, Israeli tanks have destroyed the roadside cactuses, so maybe the soldiers have the same theory about them as us.
Earlier in the afternoon we were with J and L and their six kids (the youngest is 3) in Al Faraheen. You’ll remember before I referred to the fact that they stay in a house in the middle of the village now, because their regular home at the edge, about 500m from the border, feels too dangerous. Before the attacks, J and his oldest son at least were sleeping at their farmhouse, now, no-one does.
Before the war when ISMers were visiting, the Israeli army seemed to be trying to enforce (by shooting) a 300m no-go zone on the Palestinian side of the border. At the time, J was saying he was afraid it would shortly turn into a 500m no-go zone. After the Dec/Jan attacks, when E rang the Canadian embassy to tell them she was with Palestinians being fired on while picking parsley, the Canadian officials said something along the lines of “well Israel says you are in the 1km no-go zone.” The what? And who made them the boss of the world? as we used to say as kids. And does this remind anyone of how the government in the novel 1984 rewrites “facts” regularly and then everyone colludes to say those were always the facts?
What I didn’t realize til today, is that J and L are paying $100 a month rent for the village house, out of their small farming income. In the hope some compensation money might be available from UNWRA, J asks us to take photos of the damage to their house and help them make contact with the appropriate authorities.
A few minutes later, at the farmhouse, J points out the “donkey radar” – consisting of a donkey in the field on the border side, nose pointing towards Israel – insisting that the donkey’s ears will go up if jeeps arrive. It is easy to tell J’s heart and soul are in farming and he loves his land. He practices crop rotation on the remaining 4 denems, close to the house, that it seems worth risking his life to access. In the past he shared 300 denems with his brothers and neighbours – 3 denems were olives, 6 were fruit trees, 50 were wheat, 50 were peas… Israel totally destroyed the fruit trees in previous incursions and since the rest of the land goes all the way up to the border, he has given up on it.
Before the army incursion in May 2008, he also had 3000 chickens, but the army killed 2,500 of them then, also destroying 30 pieces (each 1m X 2.5m) of shed roofing, breaking his tractor and his wheat picker (worth about $12,000), breaking the pump for his well, and shooting up his kitchen fridge, water tank, solar water heater, self-designed solar dryer, as well as the walls of the house.
The remaining 500 chickens died in January 09 after eating plants poisoned by phosphorous bombs, and another 30 pieces of shed roofing went the way of the first lot. J had to destroy a crop of radishes still in the field when he realised they’d been similarly poisoned. What this will do long term to his land, no-one knows. The family’s TV and computer were destroyed in the Dec/Jan attacks as well when shelling caused part of the roof to fall in on top of them.