South Hebron Hills
At 10:30 the crossing is empty except for trucks waiting to go through.
Highways 60 and 317
Cleared of snow but there’s little traffic.
Remnants of snow everywhere. From a distance we see Yatta covered in white.
We saw again today how people live who “fall through the cracks”, especially on difficult days like we’ve had recently.
Schools are closed because of the storm. We drive straight to A.K.’s family which is trapped in an enclave created by the separation fence. The small village is called Imnazil. They live just below the Beit Yattir settlement. We hadn’t been there in a long time. We learned that the two grandmothers had died, and a son had been born who’s now one year old. M. has 11 children.
M., the head of the family, is in a mood as stormy as the weather: the storm caved in the roof of his sheep pen, killing four sheep. They haven’t been able to remove them because of the snow and mud. The house was severely damaged (see pic.) and all the clothes got wet (we saw them hanging in the sun to dry). The whole family is without socks in the cold weather; we could see they haven’t changed their clothes or washed for five days. The worst is that after being cut off for five days by the snow, which still “decorates” the landscape, they have no food, no diapers, nor any basic commodities in the house. M. isn’t allowed to enter area C, to nearby Yatta, because he lives on the Israeli side, so he can’t replenish what’s lacking. He doesn’t have a permit to go through the checkpoint – only his children may because the school is on the other side of the fence and twice a day they go through the scanner and must show their special permit.
He was essentially helpless because no one answered his phone calls and didn’t listen to him in the DCO during all these terrible days. “They want to get rid of me,” he says.
Michal has made extraordinary efforts, and after many phone calls to the new manager of the Metzudat Yehuda (and Meitar) checkpoints, whose name is Gil’ad, and to the DCO, she’s able to obtain a one-time “humanitarian” permit so M. can go to Yatta and shop. He called that evening happily saying he’d been successful and his family can breathe more easily - until next time.
We’ll keep track of the family and see whether it’s possible to solve their problems going through the checkpoint despite the impossible reality they live in. There are apparently additional legal issues regarding land and we want to understand what’s going on in the hope we can help…
We had no adventures on our way back.