Farmers in Palestine's Jordan Valley, like Mamoun Derra, find their livelhoods and land frequently stolen by the Israeli army and the expansion of illegal settlements in the area. Homes are destroyed, agricultural pools bulldozed and land confiscated for military drills which damage the fertile soil and ruin harvests.
The regions' 58,000 Palestinian residents live on approximately 6% of the land, while 12,000 settlers have direct access to 50% of the land and have indirect access to another 39%. While the Jordan Valley contains a third of the West Bank's underground water resources, Israeli settlers are allocated four times more water from the aquifer than Palestinians who must often pay high prices for extra water to be trucked in to irrigate their trees.
Over 500 internal checkpoints and barriers impede Palestinian movement inside the West Bank, and Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley are essentially closed off from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, affecting both their rights and livelihoods.
Yet despite these challenges, Mamoun and his fellow members of the Palm Farmers Cooperative continue to grow succulent Medjoul dates, and to seek fair trade buyers who are willing to commit to long-term trade relations. To choose a Palestinian date over an Israeli settlement date is to make a choice for a livelihood with dignity for many farming families who have lived on the land for generations.
#BuyPalestinian - check out your local shop for Zaytoun's Palestinian dates.
For a list of stockists go to http://www.zaytoun.org/stockists.html