Report from Khirbet Al Hadidiya
10:00 Khirbet Al Hadidiya
Before we had a chance to look around and see where the plastic sheets we brought with us were being placed, and exchange some words with the two EAPPI volunteers who normally stay in Jericho but spent the night with the Abu Saker family – we found ourselves shaking hands with a delegation representing all the organizations, institutions and individuals busy with humanitarian help to this small community. The page distributed there by them is headed with their joint appellation: Humanitarian Support to Contribute to the Protection of Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Forcible Transfer – consisting of GVC, PREMIER URGENCE, NRC, ACTED, ACF. This coalition supports 90 communities, especially with emergency actions of the kind Khirbet Al Hadidiya needs now, but also with ongoing contact.
The PLO bureau in Ramallah organized a visiting day for this partnership in which representatives of five aid organizations, two foreign embassies and Tubas Local Council met with Abu Saker to hear more, and be heard. So we benefited from a fascinating workshop on this occasion.
The speakers were in sweeping agreement among themselves on certain points which are worth noting: They obviously see the frequent demolitions in the Palestinian Jordan Valley as a part of the broader action of ongoing ethnic cleansing. They emphasize that this Zionist project has succeeded. For example, at Khirbet Al Hadidiya the population has dwindled from 300 families in 1967, to 13 at present. This is only one example. Many of the speakers addressed the sweeping erosion even in the guise of any rule of law or orderly procedures in any matter regarding the relations of the army with the local inhabitants in areas it takes over. Again, if we take the place where this gathering took place as a case in point, apparently there is not a single house that is not threatened with a standing demolition order. It is indeed true that interim court injunctions have been issued to delay demolition until the cases are reviewed in court. However the army ignores these injunctions in all its acts. Moreover, if in the past communities would be warned before the demolition, now no warning is issued, and acts of demolition might be carried out at any moment, while the population has no way of anticipating them. Even as regards court intervention, this is never an annulment of the pending demolition orders, but only a postponement. A further court session is scheduled for December 7. The speakers also agreed about the escalating erosion in Israel’s guise of maintaining any commitment to process, talks, any kind of contact that would establish the official status of the population in these areas and its relations with the military sovereign. They said that in fact Israel does more and more to decline any kind of constructive process, and that there is no political horizon in sight. All the speakers attested to their difficulties in getting Israeli authorities involved in these issues, and to an increasing hindrance to the efforts of any aid as well as escalating damage to equipment donated to the inhabitants. Another topic discussed was the water that flows underneath the communities living in the Palestinian Jordan Valley and is diverted to be exclusively used by the Jewish settlements there. The Palestinians are obliged to purchase one cubic meter of water at the price of 27 NIS, whereas prior to the Occupation, in spite of numbering many more inhabitants, they managed with the water at hand. The immediate action the coalition has taken was therefore to organize water and shelters for the 85 people living there. The next step to be taken is to provide shelter for the livestock as well (60% of the community find their livelihood in grazing herds).
Two speakers of the Tubas Local Council, in whose jurisdiction this community lies, also brought up its persistence and wished to encourage it. They said they were in close contact with the UN and the EU in efforts to mobilize the world against Israel’s violations of the law in the area.
Two demolitions since November 25
The recent demolitions, reviewed extensively by the MW members who preceded us at Khirbet Al Hadidiya (see previous reports) were apparently carried out as a response to the gravel path that Abu Saker began to lay in order to enable 20 schoolchildren living at the site to reach their school even on rainy days. The demolitions were carried out on two successive days, while on the second day the Israeli army confiscated the emergency equipment and supplies donated by the aid organizations, remained in the area at night and did not let the adults cover the children sleeping on the exposed ground with the little that was left to use for cover. The description sounds like cruel harassment per se.
But the history of demolitions there began in 1997, and the locality has since been demolished 13 times, following each of which the people rehabilitated it. This is not necessarily tied to the absence of process, for houses in this area were demolished even as negotiators were holding talks in 2013. Furthermore, according the Oslo process, in 1999 the Occupied Territories were supposed to be liberated, of course. As far as anyone present at this meeting is concerned, obviously this area of Area C is no different from other areas under Israel’s occupation.
Abu Saker broke our heart when he concluded by saying that the children should be kept from turning violent following the harsh experiences they have been through.
(The above report is a very short summary of discussion that lasted over two hours, in order not to tire our readers. We received written material from the coalition and will be glad to provide it to MW members’ at our next meeting).