Ahmed was eager to take us to see the "wall" which separates him from his olive trees. Although we can see the olives from the hill where his house is, he must travel up the nearby mountain to go through the checkpoint to reach them. Most of the time the checkpoint is open 7 am - 6 pm, two days a week. During the olive harvest Israel has so generously opened the checkpoint each day.
He shows us the remnants of a very old house on his land and says his grandmother told him that his family has lived on the land for 500 years. Then he tells us the story of building a new house in 1995. Two years later he received a demolition order on his house because he did not have a permit from Israel to build. (Remember, this was after the Oslo accord and we are in the West Bank.) He went before the judge and was given a fine of $7000 - equivalent to the income from 12-15 years of work for this farmer. He said "they are killing me." He also tells us he has not shared this story and he is glad he could tell it.
He laments the theft of his village's land so that three settlements could be built on the hill where he used to graze sheep in the summer. He laments the theft of his own land for building the wall, and the loss of his freedom to cultivate his olive trees whenever he wants to, unbound by checkpoint schedules. He laments the loss of his land and the fine he had to pay - this was to have been his son's inheritance. Several times during his story, he stops because of the tears.
We walk some more and he tells us he likes to come out to his land (the part that is still on the same side of the wall), sit on a rock and enjoy the breeze and the clear air, the smell of the land.
We walk toward the wall and he stops us short of the 300 meter buffer zone protected by the soldiers, who will stop their jeeps and take out their bullhorns and make anyone in that zone move out - stealing a bit more of the land.
Ahmed is a man of peace. He has no hatred of the Jewish people. He just wants them to stop stealing his land, his home and his livelihood. He wants to provide for his family and live on the land where his family has lived for at least half a millennium. His existence destroys the myth that the land was empty, waiting for the return of the Jewish people. Or that the Palestinians came from other Arab countries. Or that there are no Palestinians.