Hebron, South Hebron Hills
A bright, clear morning. The Southern Hebron Hills that are dry all year are green and lovely. Remnants of snow at higher elevations and the bare vineyards have large puddles in them. As Bialik wrote: “The sun shone, etc.”
We drove on Highway 317. The settlement of Susiya has grown and another new, impressive neighborhood is under construction. You can see where Nissan Slomianski is sending our money.
At the turn to the Mitzpeh Ya’ir outpost above the road, there’s a “locality” in the valley, called Gawayyis. The Jabarin and Abu’aram families live there in tents, trying to make a living from their sheep and olive trees. In 2001 they were expelled from the caves which were right next to the road to the outpost. They showed us the remains of their bake oven, their water cistern and their buildings. Why were they expelled? To develop the area for settlers. Mitzpeh Ya’ir stands on their land. G. asks the settlers, did someone sell you the land that had belonged to us since Turkish times? The settler replies, “the land has been ours for 2000 years; we don’t have to buy it.” They moved down to the valley, about one kilometer from where they’d lived. On Sunday, 11.1.15, the settlers cut down 45 trees in the grove near them that was accessible. Hagit sent photographs yesterday.
We returned today to see it again. The residents arrive and continue telling us what’s happened to them in recent years. They gave us the names of the settlers from Mitzpeh Ya’ir and from Susiya who keep harassing them and this time broke another 300 trees in an area farther away which we couldn’t reach because of the mud. The tracks led to Mitzpeh Ya’ir… So what? Again nothing will be done.
He said that two weeks ago he and his wife were beaten when they grazed their sheep on their land. Shepherds from the village of Susya also graze on their land and fight with them. He shows us a pile of complaints he filed with the police in recent years, about which nothing had been done. But when a settler filed a complaint against him he was handcuffed immediately and fined him even though he hadn’t done anything.
G. tells us that last summer they harvested the wheat, piled it up in stacks by the road near Susiya. Settlers from Susiya came and set fire to the entire crop. When they complained to the police they were told the settlers are hoodlums and set fire to a police car and they’re unable to control them. G. asked the policeman, “So why do you arm them?” Did he receive an answer? Three guesses.
Where can we go? they ask. This is our home, our life.
Quiet, rinsed clean, remnants of snow everywhere. Pupils are still on winter break. The routine continues at the Cave of the Patriarchs, tourist groups walking around.
Everything continues normally at the checkpoints. TIPH police walk on Shuhadeh Street. We were told a shop (which is closed, of course) next to Beit Hadassah was broken into a few days ago. We telephoned M., our friend, who confirmed it, another attempt by settlers to take over abandoned property. The army came and this time made them leave and closed the shop again. There’s now no sign of what happened.