“Israeli settlers have unleashed their wild pigs towards our agricultural crops to destroy them but they cannot prevent me from earning a living and feeding my family, so I planted inside my house and irrigated the crops from a well.”
56-year-old Fatima Ahmed Al-Khatib tells the story of her fight against the Israeli occupation’s attempts to attack our Palestinian existence and heritage. Check it out below:
There are those who choose their professions, and those who are chosen by their professions. For me, my profession simply chose me. When I was a child, my mother was bitten by a snake while on a journey to collect thyme from the mountains to grind and sell it. As she died, I started working on and selling thyme, herbs, vegetables, cheese, labneh, olives, and all the delights of our Palestinian cuisine.
I am from Salata Town, in Salfit, northern the West Bank and my husband worked in many places around there, but after he was refused from work in any of the companies run by the occupation, and did not find any another job, it became difficult to make a living, especially that he was severely sick. Therefore, I planted zucchini, okra, peas, and other vegetables of daily use in a family farm near the settlement of Ariel, to sell them. At first, things were going well, but after the Israeli settlers unleashed their wild pigs, and destroyed our crops, I lost everything. I used to sell cowpea, okra, lentils, and hay for about 2,000 shekels to the neighbouring markets, and I suddenly lost that.
On that day, 10 years ago, I saw my destroyed land and my heart ached for what we are forced to live after that. I came back home and while walking, I remembered that we have two old houses with a yard between them that I can grow plants in and irrigate them using the wells inside them, and this is exactly what I went for!
I planted some crops, went to the mountains to collect thyme, and hung “labneh” everywhere. I also made cheese and started to sell selling to neighbours, family and relatives. There is this Gazan neighbour who has been living near me for 25 years and she used to buy my cheese whenever she went to visit her relatives in Gaza or America as a gift. She says my cheese is the taste of homeland, so she encouraged me and I started to make kunafa, kibbeh, musakhan, maftoul, and many other Palestinian dishes.
My husband has always supported me and together we managed to raise our children and open a shop 6 months ago. In any case, a woman can be the master of her life, and she does not have to surrender to the conditions imposed on her. Nature and the surrounding environment are full of livelihood anyway. I work in sewing, picking olives, pruning trees and cultivating the land. I defend my family, my livelihood, my country, my and my mother’s heritage.
Some of her works: