Near the village of Kafr Thulth is the settlement of Ma’ale Shomeron. Settlers arrived more than 20 years ago and have been setting up outposts on Kafr Thulth’s land ever since. Hameed, an elderly farmer, woke up one morning to find a group of trailers on his land. Not long after that, he discovered a small road leading from the new outpost to Ma’ale Shomeron. Next, the settlers brought 10 more trailers, installed water pipes underground, and built an asphalt road.
Hameed took me to his land one day and pointed out stump after stump of trees cut down near the outpost. As we toured the damage, Hameed continued to work, pulling out weeds and throwing away stray stones that he saw. He had to sit down every 10 minutes or so to catch his breath, but still he worked. I struggle to find the words to describe the love exuded by this man for his land. His deep connection to and complete knowledge of each tree and stone wall were evident from every gesture, and from the bruises and cuts all over his rough hands, scars of his endless work as a farmer. He pointed out a little clearing next to an old tree guarded from the wind and said he likes to sleep there in the summer, all by himself.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to hurt Hameed, but last Tuesday he was thrown off his donkey cart by three armed settlers who hit him in the head. He showed us the wound. Hameed’s friends came up to us as we walked, trying to get their stories heard at last. One 72-year-old farmer with heart problems said settlers cut down 235 of his trees 6 months ago. Another friend said 150 of his trees were cut down by someone in uniform, not a settler.