Qasim Ayesh - Artas

Category: Campaign Farmers' Stories Created: 30 April 2015

Qasim Ayesh 2015Qasim is a strong, resilient, young guy, you can see that straight away. Last year he chose to quit school and focus entirely on his farm work. Especially, since he finds working on the land more fun than learning in school! And the land feeds people; it fosters life. Besides that Qasim finds it important to continue the work of his ancestors because it says in the Quran that people should cherish and protect their land. Together with his father he cultivates the land.

His work consists of the construction of terraces, planting trees and crops, and harvesting. They grow zucchinis, tomatoes, cucumbers and various fruits. And olive trees of course. Qasim comes from the village of Artas. The field of his family is in Khalat al-Nahla, south of Bethlehem and east of the settlement Efrat. For two years Qasim and the other farmers have had a new neighbour: a radical Jewish settler named Sinan. In 2012 Sinan planted an Israeli flag on a hill amid Palestinian fields and made his hut there. Since then, the land belongs to Sinan, at least that is his claim. Although this is an illegal outpost, the Israeli government provides him with electricity and a telephone. The Palestinians do not have access to electricity on their fields and they are also not permitted to build anything.

Last year, the army uprooted 300 olive trees in the fields of Khalat al-Nahla and demolished the home of Qasim and his father. In response to the Gaza war last summer, the Israeli authorities have built a road connecting Sinan's hut with the settlement of Efrat. The establishment of Sinan's "farm" is not a one man action: it is part of the preparations for the Israeli government to build a new settlement.

Qasim regularly goes head to head with the settlers and the soldiers. The Israeli human rights organisation Bt'selem gave him a camera to capture the illegal actions of settlers and the army. Qasim always has his camera with him. His images are used by Bt'selem in their reports on developments in this area.