A Young Man’s Life: Barbara Thiel

Below is a brief story about Mustafa written in November by Barbara Thiel of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program. Ironically, as Mustafa noted in the story below in commenting about his brother in November, it appears that Mustafa is being detained “because he is a Palestinian.”

We hope that tomorrow Mustafa will be released.


A Young Man’s Life: Barbara Thiel

I met Mustafa on his field, where he and his brother started to replant their olive trees. The field is now divided into one part in the West of the Israeli Security Fence and one in the East; the place for the fence itself has already eaten the place for 77 Olive trees. Mustafa and his brother rented a bulldozer to open new holes in the Olive field, to transport the trees and to bring them into the new holes. The work is hard; most of the trees are old and heavy, so, that at least for every tree 3 to 4 people are necessary to manage the replanting. Good that they have friends here to help. The bulldozer is on his way to bring the next trees. Mustafa now has time to tell me:

Trees were uprooted to make way for security fence.“It is very hard for me. I am not a farmer. I studied psychology at the University in Nablus and got my B.A. But in this time there is no way to continue, the way to reach Nablus – only 25 km far away from Jayyous – is very difficult because of different road blocks and checkpoints and long term closures and curfews in Nablus itself, and beside this it is too expensive. So I opened a small shop in Jayyous, but, of course, if most people don’t have money, you can’t sell so much. By the way, we are able to replant 55 Olive trees. We miss 22 trees. We believe, that the Israeli contractor took them to sell inside of Israel.”

Some days later we visited Mustafa again on his field. It was the time, when he started to water the replanted trees. On the field he has a water reservoir, where he can collect the rainwater. We can see, how Mustafa starts his work. First he has to chop the soil. Then he takes his bottle and goes to his water reservoir, the bottle goes down on a long rope, and he gets the bottle back, full of water. He turns to the tree, waters it, and goes again to the reservoir. Ten or twelve times. It is a hard job. After he finished one tree he needs a rest. “Please excuse me. You know, I am not a farmer”, he says. The volume of the reservoir of 200 m3 is normally enough for the needs of one year. Now, short term before the raining period, it is nearly empty. But he needs in the next 3 or 4 years every year per tree approximately 3 times 100 l water. Then, after this time, he will know if his replanting was successful.

Mustafa is 23 years old. He has 3 brothers and 5 sisters, but nobody has a job. His father worked as a teacher in Jayyous for many years, later he was the manager of a charity for disabled in Qalqylia, now he lost this job and stays at home because of the circumstances, the closures, curfews, troubles of the checkpoints. One brother studied sociology, the other one and one of the sisters religion. One sister studied English, two married early, the last one is studying teaching. One of the brothers studied sports. He recently came back from the prison, a prisoner’s camp in the desert, where he had to stay for 16 months. I asked why. The answer was a laughing: “Because he is a Palestinian. Maybe, because he is religious. There was no court, no law, no right. This is our life.”

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