Palestinian Jordan Valley - visiting the demolished homes of Bedouin families

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Nurit Popper, Nirit Haviv, Dafna Banai (reporting) Guest from the Coalition of Women for Peace – Rajaa

The participation of a Palestinian citizen of Israel in our shift was a wonderful opportunity to enable profound discourse, affinity and openness that we could never achieve with our broken Arabic. The women we met opened up to her and told her about their hardships, their deepest feelings and world view.

In Fassail we visited Ali’s family. On September 10th we had been here, and now again we found 16-month old Khudeifa tied with his ankle to a tree and closed in a fenced-in area. The mother tells us he is tied so as not to crawl in the seething sand. We think it is also to prevent him from doing harm to himself. He is an energetic child and while we were there he was freed, and climbed three times on the fence around where we were sitting, entered a laundry bucket, crawled over to my car, and was caught by his sister on his way to the main road… During our visit a delegation arrived of the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, including the minister in charge of obstetrics. She brought with her medication, clothes and most importantly – a babyinfo-icon crib for Khudeifa. They also heard about the child being tied to the tree. Not sure this will help, we think the very active Khudeifa will surely climb out the crib as well.

This time Ali, the father, was present as well. He told us about his cancer-patient son who is hospitalized in Bethlehem. He spoke about the demolition of their home, about the soldiers who did not give them time to get things out of the tents and destroyed all the family’s possessions as well. Ali is willing to go anywhere Israel will send him, even to the new city. His wife, on the other hand, protested angrily: “This is my home right here! I am not going anywhere else!” This was his first, older wife. His second, younger wife, is the mother of Khudeifa, and in an advanced stage of pregnancy. We heard about the heart-rending problems this family faces, but will not repeat them here for privacy’s sake.

We also visited the Abu Zaid family. There are no signs of recovery anywhere, no trace of it after the demolition, everything is as it was a month ago, when it took place.

Khalat Makhoul – we visited Najiah, wife of Yousef Basharat, and Rima, wife of Ashraf Basharat – at their home. The men were away, in Jiftlik. Again, the women spoke with assertion and power that I have not experienced from them previously.

12:00 – Hamra (Bekaot) Checkpoint – 6 bored soldiers keep Palestinians from getting where they need to go. Not only is one lane closed and they must wait until the lane in the other direction is vacant – the soldiers take 2-3 minute breaks between one car and the next, time that accumulates and forces the waiting line to grow much longer. 9=0 cars are waiting in the intense noon heat. Over 24 degrees centigrade. I approached the soldiers. The commander hurried to shoot off the usual mantra “You are not allowed here”. The only woman-soldier too is quite hostile. Another soldier whispered, “Stay for a bit”. The soldiers want to have a chat (they’re bored?!). They’re curious about the ideology that brings us out here in such heat. The same soldier said: “I too am against the checkpoints. What am I doing here? Wouldn’t I rather hang out on the beach in Tel Aviv with a beer in my hand?” In order to talk to me they hurried to let all the cars through, but as I walked back to my car they resumed holding the line up so that a new waiting line was already formed…