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Songs of Lament: Ein Habesor Farmer Defies Adversity Amidst Agricultural Terrorism

Songs of Lament: Ein Habesor Farmer Defies Adversity Amidst Agricultural Terrorism

Joshua Swanson
Songs of Lament | Farmer Defies Adversity | Soldier Farmer Deen Israel


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Cultivating Resilience

In the heart of the Israeli borderlands, where the lush fields of Ein Habesor meet the challenges posed by geopolitical tensions, one farmer stands resolute. Deen, a determined agriculturist, refuses to surrender his land, his livelihood, to the destructive forces that loom at the edge of his fields.

Hamas not only seeks to destroy Jewish lives, from the river to the sea, but has also targeted the lifeblood of the country – its agriculture. Deen, in our video, painted a vivid picture of the struggles faced by farmers in the region.

“When they come here, they not only want to kill people; they engage in agricultural terrorism. They destroy crops, kill livestock, and [sabotage vital infrastructure like electric fences*],” he explained.

Deen’s story is the next in our series called “Songs of Lament” where we feature the lives of Jews in Israel post-October 7th and ask the songwriters and artists of the church to bring forth songs of lament. We sing and pray for the Jewish people globally and for the innocent Palestinians living under the oppression of Hamas.

Psalm 44:23-26

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Ein Habesor’s Unyielding Spirit: A Moshav’s Triumph Over Terror

Deen’s story is a part of a larger miracle. Nestled about 2.5 miles from the border with Gaza, Ein Habesor, Deen’s home, is a cooperative agricultural community that has faced not only the daily challenges of moshav life but also the relentless threats posed by terrorism.

In the realm of moshavim – cooperative agricultural communities rooted in the rich history of Labor Zionism – Ein Habesor stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of its residents, known as moshavniks. Unlike kibbutzim, moshavs like Ein Habesor boast individually owned farms of equal size, emphasizing community labor and self-sufficiency.

Ein Habesor was on the frontlines when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on October 7th, an event that showcased the community’s mettle and determination. In a daring defense, residents armed with just four M16 assault rifles and a handful of pistols successfully repelled the assailants.

The confrontation unfolded at the break of dawn when Ein Habesor’s defense unit, recently expanded due to a wave of car thefts (miracle), mobilized in response to reports of a terror cell on motorcycles near the moshav. Reflecting on the ordeal Ein Habesor resident, Yftach Gepner, conveyed a powerful message:

“We created a beautiful place here at Moshav Ein Habesor, and soon, we will be even stronger. We have come through wars, and we will get through this one because we have no other choice. This is the only country for the Jews.” [1]

Volunteers Step Up

Just as Deen shared in the video, the challenges faced by farmers in Israel, particularly along the border with Gaza, have spurred a remarkable response from people across Israel. With a shortage of labor exacerbated by the ongoing conflict, individuals from diverse backgrounds and professions are volunteering their time to keep the farms thriving.

In Baqa al-Gharbiya, an hour’s drive south of Haifa, an inspiring scene unfolds as city dwellers, ranging from teachers to lawyers, Arab to Jewish, come together during their free hours to support the farmers. This scene is duplicated across the country as the collective effort of all Israelis aims to offset the impact of the war on the agricultural sector.

Arabs with Israeli citizenship, constituting about 20 percent of the nation’s population, have joined hands with their fellow citizens to address the labor vacuum caused by the departure of Thai workers and the restrictions on Palestinian day workers from the West Bank. [2]

For Deen, he speaks of the volunteers who join him in his struggle, acknowledging the challenges they face as a team of only two.

“It’s only two of us,” he says, “but we can’t let go. If we close down, the border won’t stop here; it will keep advancing, reaching Ashkelon, Ashdod, Yavne, Tel Aviv. Eventually, we won’t have a country.”

In the face of adversity, Deen’s commitment to his land and country shines through. When his own father suggested the possibility of closing down the farm, Deen stood firm. “We stay here, and we grow everything – not just for ourselves but for all the citizens of Israel,” he declared.

The resilience of Ein Habesor’s farmers is a testament to the indomitable spirit that flourishes amidst turmoil. Deen’s refusal to succumb to the pressures of agricultural terrorism reflects a broader commitment to preserving the roots that bind a community to its land. In a region where uncertainty looms like a shadow, Deen’s story serves as a beacon of hope and determination.

As we reflect on the challenges faced by Ein Habesor and its resilient community, Deen’s words resonate: “We survive it. We stay here. We grow.” In a world often marked by turbulence, Ein Habesor stands as a symbol of unwavering strength, a testament to the power of God’s light working through a diverse community of Israelis to defy even the darkest forces that threaten their existence.

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Deen’s Cherry Tomatoes

Deen comes from a heritage deeply rooted in the cultivation of cherry tomatoes in Israel! In the 1970s, British grocery chain Marks & Spencer’s partnered with Israeli seed scientists to enhance the cherry tomato. While British growers focused on sweetness, Israeli scientists, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, aimed for uniform growth and extended shelf life. The result? A commercialized cherry tomato with slow-ripening genetics and enhanced sweetness, credited to the Israeli agrarian team.


Fast forward to January 2018, Kedma, an Israeli agricultural tech company, introduced the “Tipa Tomato” in collaboration with Arava Research and Development Center. Genetically modified for the arid Israeli desert, these red and yellow, blueberry-sized cherries boast an explosive sweetness, dubbed the world’s sweetest. Originally for local consumption, global interest may pave the way for future exports.

While Israel didn’t invent the cherry tomato, its agricultural prowess shines in selective breeding. USA exclusion is due to shelf-life constraints, but for travelers, indulging in these tiny delights abroad is highly recommended. The sweet legacy of Israeli cherry tomatoes continues to captivate taste buds worldwide. [3]​


**(- – Paraphrased based on what we think was his intent given his broken English. See the video for the exact language.)

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