Photo: Ilan Marciano
Farming is all I know how to do, Imad says
Photo: Ilan Marciano
I'd give away my home for some work, Imad says

Palestinian farmers: Don’t leave

Gaza residents tell Ynet ahead of planned summer disengagement about PA corruption and their concern over 'day after'

GAZA - As it turns out, Israeli settlers are not the only Gaza residents concerned about the upcoming Israeli withdrawal. Palestinian farmers employed in Gush Katif told Ynet they are worried about what may lie ahead.


Currently, some 3,000 Palestinians are employed in the Gaza settlement bloc, most of them in agriculture. Some agreed to speak to Ynet about their feelings ahead of the disengagement, however they declined to use their real names.


Mahmoud, 33, a Khan Younis resident, said he is concerned about providing for his family once the pullout is complete.


“We hear in the news that in August they will leave Gush Katif, and we pray to God it won’t happen,” he said. “I ask God for them not to leave. If they do leave, there will be no food for my children.”


‘They sucked our blood’


Mahmoud has been working at the settlement of Ganei Tal for more than 18 years and said he is happy with the work and earns as much as three Gaza laborers.


“There’s no work in Gaza,” he said, slamming the Palestinian Authority for its corruption.


“Only PLO members, those who work for the government, will get everything (following the pullout),” he said. “We won’t get anything.”


Still, Mahmoud chooses to blame Israel for all his problems. He said he would be doing better had Israel refrained from signing agreements with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


“Palestinians and Jews can live together, that’s how it used to be,” he said. “I don’t believe in a man coming from Tunis, who comes here and runs the country. They sucked our blood. You brought this mess upon us to begin with.”


“You didn’t make peace with the Palestinian people but rather, with a man from Tunisia,” he said. “What does everyone want after all? To live peacefully side by side.”


Mahmoud also said Gaza residents are very upset about the Palestinian government’s conduct, adding that international aid money earmarked for Gaza farmers never reached its destination.


“The PLO does what it wants, and not what everyone wants,” he said. “There are elections in Gaza and everyone moves to Hamas’ side.”


'Only God can help me'


Just like Mahmoud, 35-year-old Imad said he is also in despair over the upcoming withdrawal and is counting on a miracle to change the turn of events.


Imad said he has been working in Gush Katif for 17 years, adding that “agriculture is the only thing I know how to do.”


“After the disengagement, my children and I will have to eat gravel,” he said. “This entire disengagement is a big problem. I don’t want this soil. Take it and give me a way to make a living. In any case I’m not going to benefit from this land. ”


He said he would happily give his house for half of what the settlers are receiving for compensation, or even work.


“I would rather live in a makeshift hut all my life, but have food for my children,” he said. “I trust in God, and in my opinion the disengagement will be carried out. And therefore, only God can help me in making a living. Before I was born my fate was already sealed.”


Imad said he agrees with Mahmoud in that the PA is essentially corrupt, and said he believes former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made a mistake by initiating peace with the Palestinians.


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is continuing this today, something that has “robbed us of being able to make a living,” he said.  


"Your Rabin, before his death, brought us cancer along with peace,” he said. “Now Sharon also wants to say he is making peace, and he will give us more disease than calm. If you hand over Gush Katif, do you think there’ll be peace and everything will be OK? No. It hurts me to see my children and to know that in a little while there will be nothing for them to eat.’


“The best situation for everyone would be for them (settlers) not to leave. What will happen once they leave,” he said. “We will have more unemployment. Who will receive the land? Not the (Palestinian) nation.”


פרסום ראשון: 05.31.05, 17:40
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