A smile returned to the face of the Palestinian farmer "Abu Firas" after APN re-cultivated his land in al-Jab’ah - Bethlehem, which was attacked by settlers about a month ago.
In mid-October, a group of settlers raided the land of "Abu Firas" groves at night and cut down a large number of old olive trees. The trees were "Abu Firas" family’s main source of income. The day after the attack, "Abu Firas" was filmed in despair and shock looking out over the devastation that befell his land. He had spent twenty years tending to the trees which now lay around him. This episode was one of many Israeli assaults on "Abu Firas" land over the years, which seek to seize his land by driving him away.
Immediately after the most recent attack, APN received a groundswell of support for "Abu Firas" under the slogan "You are not alone” and raised the money necessary to replant his olive trees. Dozens of volunteers participated in planting 150 large trees and building a 500-meter fence around his land to ward off further attacks. Due to the generosity of APN’s friends, "Abu Firas" was also compensated for his losses this season. The event witnessed a large media presence which APN hopes will bring further awareness to this common form of attack on the Palestinian people, land, and culture.
APN president Razan Zuayter said, "The scene of revival after the devastation embodies the heart of our message. "Abu Firas" knows he is not alone in his steadfastness but that we stand firmly by him against the occupation, which continues its conceit morning and evening."
The restoration of "Abu Firas" groves falls directly within APN’s mandate to stabilize the steadfastness of Palestinian farmers through its “Million Tree” campaign that operates under the slogan, "They uproot a tree... We plant ten.” The campaign has planted 2.5 million fruit trees and supported 28,0000 Palestinian farmers against unrelenting attacks on Palestinian farmland.
The Bethlehem governorate is subjected to a fierce colonial attack, which aims to disintegrate Palestinian land holdings and separate the southern West Bank from Jerusalem through a pressure campaign of attacks on people and property and the seizure of land for settlements and bypass roads.