21 January 2010
On Thursday 21 January ’10, tree ISM volunteers accompanied five farmers form the village of Abu Tayima in the Khouzaa area near Khan Younis, to their land near the Israeli border.
A long awaited rainfall in Gaza several days ago created good conditions for wheat sowing on this dangerous plot of land where in the past farmers were shot at by the Israeli soldiers patrolling the border.
One hour after arriving when sowing and ploughing were in full swing, two Israeli army jeeps drove alongside the border fence and stopped. From the distance we could see a number of soldiers moving between the two jeeps and soon after that they started firing at us. The farmers withdrew to the safer area while ISM volunteers remained in the field and used loudspeakers to inform the Israeli soldiers that they were dealing with the unarmed civilians working on their land who posed no threat to them.
After about 10 minutes the two jeeps drove away and another jeep arrived with warning sirens on, while the soldiers were shouting in Arabic that we should leave. The ISM volunteers repeated the explanation that Palestinian unarmed farmers were working on their land and that they would leave for their homes when their work was finished.
Shortly after the jeep left and farmers were able to return and complete their work.
One of the farmers told us that they choose to grow wheat there to minimise the risk for themselves and their families of being shot. He said that wheat did not require much looking after and that they hoped to make the same perilous journey to the same field in May to harvest their crops.