So about three years ago, he built a small shack on a plot of land owned by his family in Gush Etzion, one of the large West Bank settlement blocs, and invited some settlers to join him in a new grassroots initiative. They would look each other in the eye for once, talk about their fears and dreams, pray together, plant crops together, share meals together, hike together, and start thinking out of the box about how to live together. He gave the space this unpretentious name: “The Field.”
…In the fall of 2015, barely a year after the initiative was launched, Gush Etzion was targeted in a series of bloody terror attacks. The fresh wave of violence challenges the bonds that have been painstakingly forged between the Palestinian and settler peace activists.
In a particularly charged scene, following the stabbing to death of a 25-year-old Israeli woman at the Gush Etzion junction, Abu Awwad tries to explain to a group of agitated settlers gathered in his shack why it is difficult for most Palestinians to sympathize with them. The two sides in this conflict, he cries out, are not equals.
“After we leave this place, you go back to your nice settlements, and we go back to our refugee camps,” he says. “You call us murderers and criminals, but you are sitting on our places of livelihood, you are sitting on our homes, and you are sitting on our hearts – not as partners, though.”