Mohamed Abed Al-Salam is a 50 years old farmer from Al-Khader village, south-west of the Bethlehem area.
What Mohamed wants most is to build a house on his land. But his land is within an area under full Israeli military control, and therefore he is not allowed to build. To build a house or drill a well on their own land, Palestinians must apply for a permit from the Israeli military commander of the area. Those permits are never granted. The well he made was labeled 'illegal' and subsequently destroyed by Israeli soldiers.
His land is eighteen dunums in size and located south of Bethlehem between the settlements of Efrat and Elazar. In 2011, Mohamed faced attacks by settlers, who wanted to build a road across his land to an outpost, the beginning of a new settlement. There is always the tangible threat of confiscation. Israel uses a law that was once made by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, stating that uncultivated land becomes land of the State if not cultivated for three years. According to Israel, this law is still applicable within the West Bank. If Palestinian farmers do not cultivate their land, it is easy for Israel to expropriate the land. Therefore, it is important that olive trees are planted, so the land stays cultivated.
In 2010, Mohamed received thirty olive trees from the Olive Tree Campaign. By now they bear fruit. He also grows grapes and almonds. Mohamed is only a farmer, besides farming he has no other work. Mohamed is married and has seven children. The youngest is thirteen years old and the oldest twenty-nine years. Three of his daughters are married and the rest still live at home. He is very happy and proud that his children do well in school and that his daughters found good husbands.