Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills, Tue 15.1.13, Morning
We had plans to visit more than one village but, as usual, events overtook us
See these pictures, for living conditions in the Hebron hills
This morning we set out a bit later than usual and M suggested we go to two of the Sth Hebron villages in area C.
En Faqqara (which means something like Mother of Poverty and it is indeed very poor) and Um al Hir (Mother of Morning?) although we didn't make it that far.
Here there is a very different reality and I wanted to photograph there. Those who get their ideas about how Palestinians live from the internet, should better take a visit to this village
We stopped at the sheep market at Tzomet haKvassim between Yatta and Hebron to sense the mood. . The Palestinians asked who we were and Natanya told them about MachsomWatch and they found it hard to believe that we were Israeli Jews and not foreigners which is very important.
From there, we moved on to a very different story: an arid poverty stricken scene (for which, see photos), where the family we visited lived during the recent snow in a cave. You can get a sense of how cold the area is. Here in Jerusalem the snow has mostly melted but there, even along the way to Hebron, the fields were still covered with snow. So nice to get out of your warm car and take some photos while you shiver, then get back into the warm car and know that at home, you have your warm bath and heating waiting. The water was even dripping down from the roof of the cave on to the tangle of electric wires. Of course it looks a mess. One wonders how house-proud a person can be under such circumstances. Muhammed said that they had sat there with the family and how miserable it had been. And you can see the house they are building now and how 'huge' it is…it would probably fit into the average Israeli flat, but is still now awaiting destruction as it was built without a permit......which of course cannot be obtained.
From there, we took a woman and her three sick children to A-Tawanni where we stopped at the clinic. It was packed with people, mainly women, at least 50, in a building maybe as big as an average Israeli flat, MAYBE, and only one doctor there. This I did not photograph as I think it would have been insulting to do so and did not even ask permission to photograph. We couldn't find out reliably who runs the clinic. Operation Dove, the Italian volunteers think it is either the Palestinian Red Crescent or something called Medical Care, but the service is not provided by Israel who, as the occupier, actually has responsibility for the well-being of the people living under occupation, according to the many conventions to which Israel is a signatory.
The 3-5 km road between the two villages is unbelievably bad. Even M in the van said had he known how bad it was he would not have gone on it. But the villagers have no choice as the good road on top is only for the Lords of the Land. As we left the village we saw that a border police patrol had blocked the entrance and there were about 7 of them there. We never found out why. We saw that there was Nasser from Btselem (who lives at Sussiya) being checked on his way into the village, very odd... I smiled through the window at one of the border policeman who looked at me and spat on th e ground very obviously. So we got out and the soldier was very rude and did not deny that he had spat but said that if we wanted to make a complaint we could do that. I said to him that we had not given him any reason to act like that and that his behavior had been disgusting. The other soldiers just kept trying to get him away and avoid the incident. We noted the number of their car, which was a civilian vehicle with civilian license plates. The situation was very unpleasant but the more you ignore or upset this kind of behavior the more the soldiers will allow themselves to act in that way. We will write to the Border Police command and complain.
On Route 317 going to the villages we noticed a military patrol marching along intently, to no apparent purpose, maybe looking for a place to set up a flying checkpoint. On the return to Beersheva (Yehudit and M only), there was a slight argument with the woman on duty in the budke and she purposely detained us, calling the shift leader to 'interrogate' us. Fortunately he knew MachsomWatch and after a short discussion told us we were free to go since it was clear there was no reason to hold us. While it is important to challenge the 'security forces' when they are rude, obstructive or aggressive, it is more effective to address the higher ranks, either on the spot or in writing afterwards. Cerrtainly not to get in arguments with them. The guys (and girls) on the ground won't back down and the power struggle is not worth the effort and counterproductive to our work which is watching and reporting. (last bit written by Yehudit).