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Farmers in the Eshkol Regional Council are continuing to plow the earth despite the Qassam rocket and mortar fire raining down upon them. Since the Gaza offensive began, the regional council, which abuts the Strip, has taken more rocket and mortar hits than any other area or community.

From their fields, farmers can see mortars being fired from the other side of the border. Still, they try to remain optimistic: "We are concerned, but keep working as usual," said farmer Eyal Bar-Ad. "The work can't be postponed. If I'm a month late, I won't get paid for the crops."

Bar-Ad and his partners grow potatoes, and the area is the largest producer of the crop in the country, for both domestic consumption and export. "Of course we're worried about the situation. We see the Qassams and mortars on their way and hope they don't hit us," said Bar-Ad.

Most of the women and children in the region have already left the communities around Gaza, but the farmers themselves insist on staying. Haim Yelin, who heads the regional council, said it is their principles that keep them there. "We are an agricultural area, raised on the values of agriculture and the land. We're not going to take our land to Tel Aviv - we'll stay here because that's what the founders of our communities taught us," he said.

"Whoever hasn't seen helicopters and tanks protecting the farmers during the potato harvest doesn't understand the meaning of being a farmer along the border."