The Makhrour valley, west of Beit Jala, is a place everyone in the area knows. It is one of the most beautiful places in the district of Bethlehem with beautiful nature and clean air. Local Palestinians enjoy coming here in their free time, to walk, picnic and relax. For Palestinians this is the the only recreational area that is left in the region. The old agricultural terraces are filled with various fruit and olive trees, that either grow wild or are planted by the farmers who own land there.
One of those farmers is Mohamed Musa. Mohamed owns 5 dunums of land in the Makhrour valley, planted mainly with olive trees. The deed of ownership to the land dates back to the Ottoman era.
Palestinians from Bethlehem are at risk of losing their favourite outdoor spot. The valley is surrounded by the separation Wall, the settlement of Har Gilo and Road 60: a highway that connects the settlements with Jerusalem. The highway is partially inaccessible for Palestinians due to a major Israeli checkpoint.
Mohamed has been working alone on his land for the last 25 years and is there almost every day and every night to guard the land. In his small hut he has a bed or he sleeps outside on the bench on one of the agricultural terraces. His only companions are his dogs and cats. In 2001, Mohamed was manhandled by some settlers because he had built a tent on his own land.
'A tragedy' is how Mohamed describes the lives of Palestinian farmers: 'We hardly get support from our government, and so we have to fight this battle alone'. Fortunately, his friends from the Deheisheh refugee camp see him as a hero because he stays alone on the land. They often come late at night to visit him to have a beer with him under the stars. Because it is so important to maintain the Makhrour valley for the Palestinians, the Olive Tree Campaign has donated 200 trees.