Opinion

How Can Settlers Take My Land and Say It Was God's Will?

I haven’t been on my land for 20 years. But I still remember well the days we had before the settlers came. How we’d stay on the land and work on it from morning to evening.

Maryam Hamad. 'I’ve waited so many years for this moment.'
Yossi Gurvitz/Yesh Din

I think tonight I won’t be able to sleep a wink. My name is Maryam Hamad, I’m 83 years old and was born and lived my whole life in the village of Silwad on the West Bank.

My father had farming lands, which he cultivated for many years with hard work. I remember that fruit trees were planted in the various plots – there was a fig grove, olive vineyards and others. When I was a little girl my father would put me on a donkey and ride with me to those fields and groves.

After my father died, my brother and I inherited the lands. In 1996 Israeli settlers built the outpost they call “Amona” on them.

Evacuating the invaders from my land on Wednesday was especially exciting for me. I’ve waited so many years for this moment and always believed it would finally come. That’s all I wanted, and I still only want to return to my plots safely and peacefully, legally and without any problems.

I’ve never understood how the settlers could come, take my land and tell me it was God’s will. That’s land confiscation. They took my land against my will. I’m glad it’s finally over.

Our struggle to return to our land was long and exhausting. We succeeded due to our patience and fortitude, our belief in our cause and the help of those who stood by us and supported us on this long way during all these years.

It’s hard for me to express this feeling in words. What I’d like to do is go out of the house and give all the people in the village candy, I’m so happy. I want to give people sweets because I’m about to return to my land, to cultivate it again. I want to share this special moment with my family and neighbors. It’s so exciting that I’m positively flying with joy.

I haven’t been on my land for 20 years. That’s a long time. A very long time. But I still remember well the days we had before the settlers came. How we’d stay on the land and work on it from morning to evening.

Apart from fruit trees we used to sow tomatoes, cucumbers, fakus (Armenian cucumber) and okra. The soil was very fertile and gave us abundant, rich crops.

The fact that my land has been given back to me takes me back to my childhood days, to family memories, love and happiness. That’s a special feeling, I wish it on anyone who has lost land or anything so precious. After many years, I feel my belief and confidence in life returning to me.

After years of patient waiting, I can no longer wait for the moment in which I’ll work on my land again, like I did once. I’ve already prepared the wheat and lentils for sowing, and even the work tools I’ve kept over the years.

The writer, a part-owner of one the plots on which Amona was built, is one of the petitioners to evacuate the outpost.