The town has constant clashes with the surrounding settlements, and these are more violent in the olive harvest season. Farmers are attacked when working on their lands and even when passing certain roads near their properties. Three years ago, the settlers kidnapped a man and killed another one. A few months ago, MPTers were told that two young men from Awarta village were killed on a road which borders the village land with Jitit settlement.
Settler contained-animal lots.
MPT visited the village and spoke with the Project Coordinator of the Union Agricultural Work Communities, agricultural Palestinian NGO. As he explained the goals and the achievements of this agricultural union, MPT realized this is not only a community development organization, but a very well organized form of resisting the occupation. The organization works mainly on the land declared area C, where already 18 buildings including a mosque received a demolition order. The organization tries to empower farmers with the knowledge, skills and competences necessary for them to cultivate their lands, which otherwise will be taken away by the Israeli settlements, if it is not cultivated and rehabilitated. The coordinator told MPT when they started their work in area C, an Israeli surveillance plane flew low over the area, took pictures about what are the Palestinians were doing and how. They are expecting new “visits” like this in the future, besides the regular “ inspections” already practiced by the Israeli Occupied Forces.
Terrace walls are built by hand, giving work to villagers and reclaiming the land.
Speaking about their achievements, the coordinator proudly explained that the work that they are doing has many benefits for the farmers, unfortunately no study has been made yet. Last year, 13 very poor farmers, whose land was taken, were provided green houses; 500 farmers in ten villages were trained and MPT could see how the unused land is being transformed in a fertile agricultural area.
This organization does not accept US AID. The European funders are very supportive of the approach and work of their organization, while the US has a different approach. Local volunteers who work with this organization first contacted MPT about the situation in Aqraba.