Dispossession in Hebron
On 17 April a young man invited me into his small house in Hebron Old City near the Ibrahimi Mosque. Israeli settlers are trying to buy this house from the Awewi family. Two of my host’s brothers have been killed in attempts, he believes, to terrorize the family into selling.
Room torched by settlers in Awewi house
On 4 December 2008, armed settlers and soldiers came into the house and set fire to the contents of a room. The day before my visit, settlers supported by soldiers wrecked the water tanks on the roof, flooding the house and a shop below it. The tanks were holed and overturned, depriving the family of their water supply. The settlers also vandalized a chicken coop on the roof and stole the chickens.
The family had a
garden at the side of the house where they kept cows and camels. Settlers
killed the animals with poison and now prevent the family from using the
garden. The young man said that the family will not sell their house, no
matter what the settlers and soldiers do to them.
I have just heard
that 10 soldiers raided the Awewi house from midnight to 3 am on 26 April.
They photographed the children and examined all the family’s possessions
which they left on the floor, finding nothing of note.
Hebron has been
occupied by the Israeli military and settlers since 1967. Strongly
anti-Palestinian radical Jewish fundamentalists have settled in the middle
of the Old City. They are trying to turn this part of Hebron into a Jews
only area. Of course all Israeli settlements in
Hebron and the rest of the West Bank and in East (Palestinian) Jerusalem are
illegal according to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of
Justice, and United Nations resolutions.
Because the state of Israel supports the extremist settlers, the Israeli army usually fails to protect Palestinians or their property against criminal acts by the settlers. The perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. As a result of Israel’s inhumane occupation, the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Old City are getting worse and worse.
The following day, with three other internationals, I visited Umm Al-Khair village a few miles from Hebron. The Bedouin managing to exist here face the same problem as Palestinians in Old Hebron: dispossession by Israeli settlers.
A shepherd welcomed
us with coffee. With irony he said that the Israelis are very democratic:
they themselves have running water and electricity and extend these
facilities to the large sheds of chickens which the settlement runs. But the
Israelis do not permit the people, the Bedouin, living between the
settlement and the chicken sheds to have running water and electricity. They
have to get water from a stand pipe. Settlers have holed the water tank for
Fundamental to the Bedouins’ pastoral way of life is the ability to
travel. During the British mandate they could move to where the grazing was
good, perhaps as far as the Jordan valley, in a year when the rains were
poor in the Hebron area. Movement has now been made impossible by the need
for rarely-issued permits, checkpoints, and the wall. There are demolition
orders on all the shelters and tents which house the people of the village
and their animals.
The shepherd said that the older people are able to look back on good
times when they could move freely to graze their sheep. “But our young
people only know what it is like to be imprisoned in this small area, which
does not provide adequate grazing for our sheep, and to be harassed by
settlers and soldiers.”
The price of fodder
is increasing and more has been needed this year because of lack of rain,
and these people cannot survive their present predicament without outside
arrive and order us to leave the village
On 26 April, the villagers and Christian Peacemaker Team internationals nonviolently prevented settlers from constructing a settlement road on village land. It was fitting that after visiting the Bedouin we went to the nearby village of At Tuwani to attend the opening of a museum documenting non-violent resistance to the occupation.
Zionism’s Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property
to 8am 18 April 2009
air strike – 4 dead – 18 injured -- 17 taken prisoner
troops kill 16-year-old and wound another youngster 'for throwing stones'
Army kills defenceless protester
troops shoot 17-year-old dead
troops unleash dog – man hospitalised
navy and army target Palestinian fishing and farming
dies from Israeli Operation 'Cast Lead' injury
air strike destroys house in Gaza