Jillian Kestler-DAmours reports: For Palestinian farmer Esam Foqaha, agriculture is more than a profession, it’s a way of life. “Farming is not only a job. It’s our lifestyle and we will do it forever,” Foqaha said.
Foqaha lives in Ein Al-Beida, a Palestinian agricultural village located in the West Bank’s northern Jordan Valley area. With his three brothers, he cultivates about 300 dunams (0.3km) of agricultural land. Most of his produce – tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and other vegetables – is marketed to Jenin, Nablus and other major Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
A member of the Ein Al-Beida Agricultural Union, which represents 70 farmers in the area, Foqaha said a combination of harsh Israeli restrictions on Palestinian farmers, Israel’s near total control of resources, and neglect on the part of Palestinian authorities has made Palestinian agriculture in the West Bank almost impossible.
“Israeli restrictions have a political purpose: to increase the economic reliance of the people on Israel. Some will leave the land and work in settlements instead of farming. They want people to leave,” Foqaha said.
Foqaha’s case isn’t unique. Instead, according to human rights groups, it represents a growing inability among Palestinian farmers to engage in sustainable agriculture in the occupied West Bank. [Continue reading…]