Visit to Villages: Shweika, Southern Hebron Hills, Hebron, Sansana (Meitar crossing), Sunday, 2.10.11, morning
Translator: Charles K.
Laborers waiting for their employers fill the parking lot on the Israeli side. The Palestinian side is empty.
We observe piles of earth forming new roadblocks on side roads in the southern area near Abda and Dahariyya.
Israeli flags decorate the electric poles. Another way to mark the festiveness of the statehood application to the UN??
The city welcomes us with an Israeli flag stretched across Beit HaMeriva.
The city is quiet, maybe somewhat more Border Police soldiers than usual near the Worshippers’ route and the Tzion route, inobtrusive in the buildings’ shadows. A few more paratroopers spread along Shuhada street.
CPT volunteers at the Pharmacy checkpoint tell us the holiday passed relatively quietly.
Pakistani or Indian pilgrims descend quietly from the Cave of the Patriarchs straight to the buses, the souvenir merchants watching them disappointedly because the pilgrims’ route passes near their shops, but not near enough.
Highway 60 south
Hagit read online about violence by residents of Eshtamo’a (known, erroneously, as “price tag”). We decided to see for ourselves.
Farhan, from the village of Simiya (near Samu’a) takes us in his valiant Subaru on a dirt road to the village of Shweika. On the way he tells us that he heard on the news about more activity by the Eshtamo’a settlers – confiscation of a flock of sheep belonging to a local Arab. The two younger sons of the victimized landowner join us when we reach Shweika. We descend into the wadi below Shweika and see the horrible sight: two terraces of olive trees completely destroyed! The settlers broke all the green branches of the olive trees and destroyed the entire grove. On a nearby rock they wrote, in red – the price tag’s blood.
The locals say the tracks indicate that 4-5 rowdies must have spent about two hours carrying out the destruction, watched the whole time by IDF soldiers in their post below the Eshtamo’a outpost.
We see from the destroyed grove Eshtamo’a’s prefabs on the ridge, and the military post is clearly visible below them. It should be noted that the army didn’t intervene at all on the villagers’ behalf. The scene is terrible and very sad; we have no words to console the villagers. Instead, they comfort us, tell us that the army returned the sheep that were taken, this time acting rapidly and effectively.
On our way back to Highway 60 we see the destroyed grove from above – a metaphor for what peace is like here.