Students from USA Give a hand in picking vegetables
We arrived around 7:30 at the greenhouses belonging to the Palestinian village of Atil but situated on the “Israeli" side of the Separation Fence, very close to the village of Ibtan.
Tal Haran and Amos Gvirtz drove 7 volunteers – American and international students in the US – to the area, where R., A. and their friends already welcomed us with a huge tray of Knafe from Tul Karm transported by tractor…. and a pot of fresh black coffee. Conversation flowed and the students with Amos quickly switched over to the cucumber greenhouse.
At some point two Palestinian Israelis from Ibtan (one of them, so we were told, took over lands that had belonged to Atil villagers nearby) and showed interest in the goings-on, left, came back, and left again. In the meantime in the cucumber greenhouse, the students put on gloves and quickly picked the good cucumbers, taking down the faulty ones. After some hours they were through and we sat down for tea and cookies. We then proceeded to the pepper greenhouse, picked all the bad ones so as not to let them ‘infect’ the good ones.
Suddenly a very nice guy from Ara village arrived, a relative of one of the Atil workers. He was very surprised to see us and was happy to hear of our initiative, demanded we stop for another coffee break, and treated us to cookies and water pipes. He was very interested in hearing where each student came from and invited them to visit his lab in the Tel Aviv area as well as at his village. We then went back to work in the pepper greenhouse for some more hours, until we finished, just as our dear friend A. from Zemer village arrived with Humus, Falafel, salad, juice and plenty of pita bread.
We sat down for a meal, exchanged facebook and phone information, took shared pictures, but then it was time not to be late at the checkpoint so we took our leave. (On our way back the volunteer students asked me when would be the next time…)
I received a list of names of all the Atil villagers who have problems with their permits, and we’ll try to see into that. On Monday Rony and I will be visiting again and hope for good news.