Prisoner on his own land

A Gaza farmer tells Al Jazeera he continues to struggle despite Israeli withdrawal.

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    The house that Yasser built after Israel forces
    withdrew from the Gaza Strip
    It has never been easy for Palestinians living close to Jewish settlements in the occupied territories but the hardships have continued for those living in the Gaza Strip even after the Israeli withdrawal.

    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the Gaza Strip, went to meet Yasser al-Harazine a farmer in Beit Lahiya in the north of the territory who says he still feels like a prisoner in his own home.

    Al-Harazine has worked his fields in the northern Gaza Strip since 1952. The father of 18 children, has also been a prisoner on his own land for much of the past seven years.

    Prisoner on his land

    Watch Nour Odeh's report from Beit Lahiya

    Since 2000 Al-Harazine's family has been one of 35 Palestinian families caught within the extended borders of the former Israeli settlement of Dugit.

    "Our lives have been very difficult. We were not allowed anywhere near the al-Dugit settlement on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya except with a permit. There is a checkpoint and body search," he told Al Jazeera. 

    "Sometimes the fate of the 35 families living here is connected to the presence of a dog. Every time we try to cross over with our belongings they bring a sniffer dog. If there is no dog, we have to leave behind our food and stuff until a dog can be brought later."

    Optimistic

    Al-Harazine was optimistic when the Israeli army left the Gaza Strip and demolished the settlements, including his haunting neighbour Dugit.

    He built a five-storey home for his large family but his enjoyment of the new found freedom ended abruptly.

    Al-Harazine with a shell that fell on his
    land during several months of Israeli shelling
    For months, his land and crops were again off limits, this time because of non-stop Israeli shelling. He still has the empty tank shells and shrapnel.

    In October 2006, Israeli forces came back. Al-Harazine and his family were confined to one room of their home as soldiers took it over and used it as a command post.

    And just last month, the Israeli soldiers came back again, this time they ordered Al-Harazine and his family out of their home confining them to a small room close to the sheep they raise. They stayed there for nearly three weeks.

    "The land is ruined, it's too dry now. All these crops are wasted, there is no possibility of having irrigation water," he says. "I lost at least $10,000."

    The Israeli soldiers also left their mark inside his home. They drilled holes in the wall and when they left they warned him not to fix them because they would be coming back.

    But Al-Harazine still looks forward to the next planting season.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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