This morning, I got up while the morning midst still hung in the air and accompanied our friend Jamal* as he and his sons plowed their land near Avigail settlement. Fancy terms aside, that meant sitting on the hillside, my video camera in hand, and hoping settlers would leave the farmers in peace. This was the third day that they had been plowing their land and so far neither Israeli settlers nor the the Israeli army had attacked or threatened the farmers or tried to stop the work. I didn’t know if the lack of violence should make me feel confident or worried that today would be the day.
“It’s amazing how those prickly bushes stay put, isn’t it?” said my teammate. She gestured towards one of the small zatar bushes that dot the hillside. We watched as Jamal’s sons ran the plow over the scrub. Sure enough, the bush didn’t move an inch. It stay rooted to the ground.
Yesterday, I visited the village of Susiya. A of the group for whom I was translating asked our host to explain what his land meant to him. “We eat from our land. We drink from our land. We live from our land,” he answered. “This is where our ancestors lived. Our land is very, very important to us.”
The Palestinian people of South Hebron Hills are like zatar bushes. Their roots run deep. Whatever the Israeli army or Israeli settlers may do to them, they plan to stay put.