Abed J In His Cauliflower field
The Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba and Givat Ha Harsina are situated on the hills that lie just beyond the eastern boundary of the Hebron municipality.
Immediately east of them and only about a half-hour's walk from the center of Hebron is the fertile Beqa'a valley, home to approximately 60 Palestinian families who have experienced many difficulties from their proximity to the settlements:
land confiscation, harassment, and home demolitions.
Under the Oslo agreements, the Beqa'a has been classified as Area C, which constitutes the 70% of the West Bank that is still under full Israeli occupation.
Families wishing to build new homes or expand existing ones must apply to the Israeli Civil Administration for permits.
The application process is expensive and permits are routinely denied. But even existing homes built with permits are endangered if they lie in the path of the expanding settlements or of the by-pass roads built for their convenience.
Such is the case of Abed J. (see photo), a farmer in his 70s.
In 1996, a new by-pass road providing access between the settlements and Jerusalem was built through the middle of his farmland.
He lost more than 12,000 heads of cabbage valued at $14,000.
Israeli authorities offered him $66 US in compensation for the lost land and produce, but he refused the insult.
His vineyards and cauliflower fields now straddle the by-pass road.
In the last week of March, 1998, Israeli soldiers bulldozed the entrance to the dirt road leading to Abed J's house, rendering it impassable to vehicular traffic.
In the process they cut irrigation pipes and severed electrical lines, leaving live wires exposed on the ground. Abed was not home at the time.
When his wife went out to find out what the soldiers were doing, they pushed her into a full drainage ditch and threatened her with their rifles.
A smaller access road connecting the settlements to the by-pass road was also built north of Abed J's property.
On April 28, Abed J. received an order to destroy his terraces and plants that lie between his house and the access road, an area 30 meters wide that comprises 6 acres.
The order stated that he must return the land to its original state by June 12, or the Israeli army will do it and charge him for the use of the bulldozer.
Abed J. has valid land ownership documents that date back more than a century, but the order described it as state land.
Meanwhile, settlers have cut their water pipes, driven a jeep over their wheat, and set dogs on the family.
There are 30 people spanning three generations in Abed J's family.
To ease the crowding, the family added a room.
During the first week in May, Israeli soldiers presented Abed J's family with a demolition order for the addition, but the family refused to take it.
The soldiers told the family that they would eventually be evicted.