South Hebron Hills, Tue 27.7.10, Morning
Southern Hebron Hills,
Translator: Charles K.
The Jabbar family's struggle to survive in the Biq'a (the agriculture area below Kiryat Arba)
After the events of recent days (cf. reports from 19-20.7.10), Mekorot staff, accompanied by the Border Police, again showed up to tear out and remove irrigation pipes and drip irrigation devices. We decided to focus on the family's story.
Karin, who also volunteers for "Makom," joined the shift in order to hear exactly what the family has been going through, at first hand, to see whether there's anything they can do to help the family in its struggle.
We sat with the family for about two hours, during which Atta and his brothers recounted the history of the family's contacts with the settlers and the state from the day Kiryat Arba was established in 1972, until today. Since Karin is writing the detailed report, we'll provide only a brief account.
The state of Israel is systematically chewing up their land. First to build the "Giv'at Ha'harsina" neighborhood, then to construct Route 60. Later, the vineyards "were too close" to the neighborhood, according to the Israeli authorities, so they were cut down and the family was forbidden to cultivate the land. Recently a large, productive orchard was destroyed to construct the terraces surrounding the "Nofey Mamreh" neighborhood. The family stubbornly remains on its land and lives off its produce, but now they've become water thieves - in an attempt to get rid of them. Maybe that will make them tired of living?! Why don't they understand that they have to leave because Kiryat Arba has to grow?
Their explanations - that the water comes from a well and from tanker trucks they pay for - don't help, nor is there any way they're able to connect to water coming from Mekorot. So, the state of Israel sends soldiers and police, armed and protected, to allow "our stalwart lads" to uproot, tear and dismantle any equipment that enables the Jabber family to raise squash, beans, tomatoes and grapes. Thus, in a small house to which temporary additions have been stuck to house three brothers crowded in with their families, they cling to their land and refuse to leave. They even showed us the bill of sale from Turkish times and the cave in which their grandfather lived. Yasser Jabber showed us how a family of five crowds into one room, with a kitchenette, shower and toilet. He showed us the torn-up drip irrigation equipment, the water pipe he moves from plot to plot to find some way to water his crops. He says that this wastes much more water, but that they have to eat and sell the vegetables in order to pay their debts, because they bought a large amount of equipment in order to work the fields.
Now "they want us to ask for money from bodies that I don't want to approach," says Yasser; "They're just waiting for me to turn to them." Atta also says that he forcibly restrains the younger members of the family, to prevent their anger from bursting forth. "We only want to live in peace on our land, we don't understand the reason for this violence, the abusiveness and wickedness. What wrong did we do?!" One hundred five years ago our grandfather bought these lands with gold coins, and lived in a cave adjacent to which we built our house. He bequeathed to us the right to build a house and live here. "Is this Jewish justice?," they ask.