Palestinian teenager bathing in the ancient farming pools of Wadi Fuqin.
Wadi Fuqin, a small Palestinian village, carries the inconceivable complexities of the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The village is a well preserved model of a traditional agricultural way of life, developed thousands of years ago. The community has harnessed the water flowing from the valley’s eleven springs to nourish their fields. Kilometers of canals direct the spring water to storage pools and onwards to the many fruit and vegetable fields. Currently, the agricultural way of life and natural landscape is endangered by many threats. To the east, the massive development of the Beitar Ilit Settlement is posing an immediate danger to the springs, to the west, the planned separation wall threatens to harm more springs and close the village in between the wall and the settlement.
The villagers are not permitted to cross to Israel nor are they allowed to cross to the settlement. Some of the villagers, left with no other income possibilities work in the settlement’s (with special permission) construction site. Building the threat to their village themselves. As an Israeli I approach this story with great passion. A known saying in Hebrew determines that a person is the scenery of his childhood. Wadi Fuqin is part of the scenery of my childhood. The smell of the fresh vegetables, the clear water are a good part of my memories, I grew up in a country mixed with Jews and Arabs and no walls in between. Its true that the atmosphere was not always welcoming on both sides but is still part of my memories, part of who I am. I document the beauty of the place, the significance of the scenery and produce the land brings to its owners, the villagers. I pay close attention to the joy and love the place and produce bring to the villagers, it is important for me to document it, before it might change, for them and for myself.
Abu Adnan picking Sabras at his fields at Wadi Fukin.
Hamed, cleanning his radishs before taking them to the market.
Mahmud, at his vineyard in Wadi Fuqin.
Palestinian boy from Wadi Fuqin Aiming a toy gun at the Beitar Ilit Settelment.
The ongoing construction of Beiter Ililt Settelment above the ancients farming terraces of Wadi Fukin.
Maher, a Palestinian worker, praying on a break while building the setelment of Beiter Ililt.
Amin, a Palestinian worker loads his donkey to carry construction materials for the building of the settelment of Beitar Ilit.
Beiter Ililit is built in order to provide housing for the orthodox community, suffering from severe shortage of appartments in Jerusalem.
A Palestinian worker fixing the roof tops of the new construction. It is estimated that at the end of 2011 the population of the settelment would reach 50,000.
Palestinian workers at the settelment construction site. In the background, the village of Wadi Fuqin.
Hamad, preparing his father land for a new season of eggplants under the new buildings of the settlement.
Jamil is opening the water from the ancient canal. The farmers split the water in turns. In the background the ruined landscape as a result of the quarrying stones for the settlement.
Agriculture land at Wadi Fukin covered with waste spilled from the construction sites of the Beiter Ililit settlement. The waste blocks the earth making it impossible to farm, and blocking new rain from the underground fountains.
Near the vineyard at Wadi Fukin. Above, the settlement of Beitar Ililt.
Karim is studing for an exam, near his home at Wadi Fuqin. The youth of the village is highly educated and most of them continue to study in University.
Bader is a 100 years old. During his life he has lived under the rule of the Ottomans, the British mandate, The Jordanian Kingdom, The Israeli occupation and the Palestinian authority. “It doesn’t matter who’s in power”, he says, as long as I’m allowed to continue live on my land.
Bader’s Daughter in law and family preparing for dinner made of local all organic produce.
The planned separation wall has been on hold since Israeli activists from the town of Tsur Hadassah (in the background) have appealed to Israeli courts warning the wall will have disastrous consequences for the crops and springs of the village. Palestinian workers try to cross into Israel in order to work.
Taha, on the right ,will start to study in Bethlehem University next year, but most of the young who graduate are unemployed.
Some of the farming land still gets sufficient water from the springs and is still fruitful.
Abu Ahmad is 85 years old and still works at the fields every day from sunrise to sunset.
During Ramadan, families from the village pick fruit for the evening dinner.
Leeor is a filmmaker and a photographer. A graduate of the Tel Aviv University’s Film department and the International Center of Photography Documentary and Photojournalism program.
Leeor has worked on independent films and commercial television programs as a cinematographer, film editor and director. His short and feature length films were screened in film festivals and television channels world wide. Currently based in New York, working on film, photography and multimedia projects and teaching at the International Center of Photography.