Al Maqassar, Khalat Khader
A gorgeous spring day, the Jordan Valley is green and nature smiles at us. But human evil pervades it all. The mind cannot register much more there is of this… Inconceivable…
In our recent reported visit (February 10) we stood dazed at the horrendous demolitions in Jiftliq, Fassail, Al Karzaliya and Al Maqassar. But apparently the devil’s appetite far exceeds our imagination. On the morrow, February 11, 2016, bulldozers charged the northern tip of the Palestinian Jordan Valley – Al Farisiya. Khalat Hader, Bardalah and En Al Beda. Again, dozens of structures were demolished, families remained homeless and hundreds of sheep and goats found themselves exposed to the freezing Jordan Valley winds.
We began at Al Maqassar, twice passing up the tiny opening that the inhabitants made in the army’s barriers, put up all the way to their encampment to prevent any possible aid after the destruction. Even the path to Tamoun and the West Bank has been blocked. It’s a s i e g e.
Yaacov Manor and we – aided by our friend M. – donated plastic sheets and construction rods. Today we found the sheets spread on the ground, ready to erect a temporary shelter. The inhabitants intend to put up a shelter for the sheep. For their own dwelling they are already set up. Meagerly, but they are. They received one large tent from the PA, and another one (pup-tent sized) from the Red Cross. We brought clothes and shoes. The woman whose home was demolished looked at the sack and said, “I don’t want clothes, I need a tent!” The tents they received have been put up about 250 meters away from their original home, and the woman has to manage moving large sacks of feed for the sheep on her head from one spot to another, and run around between the dwelling tent and the taboun (outdoor oven) – which was miraculously spared.
At the hamlet of Khalet Khader south of the settlement Mehola, on Fecruary 11 the army demolished 11 dwellings and numerous sheep pens at 3 different sites. In one of these sites we sat along with Abu Rabi’a whose home had been destroyed. In the past he lived in Al Hmaier, but was expelled by means of two demolitions. In the present demolition, the army
destroyed 2 dwelling tents, 2 outhouses (donated by the European Union), one kitchen, one taboun and 3 sheep pens. The army also brutally devastated a full water tank and the solar-charged batteries that supply electricity. Thus the people are not only homeless, but also hungry. Without the taboun there’s no bread, no possibility to cook, no electrical lighting late afternoon and evenings, and no water!
He tells us about his region – fertile and replete with water that until the Israeli occupation was abundant with apple and orange groves, and marvelous date palms. Even later, they still survived – until 2005, 200 families were living here. At present less than 10 have remained. Ethnic cleansing. In the harsh conditions of the Jordan Valley, the denial of water, home demolitions, repeated expulsions and a regime of closure and isolation are far more than humans can bear, even such hardy people as the Jordan Valley dwellers.
We met two representatives of Medecins du Monde – psychologists who came to monitor the mental state of the inhabitants following their trauma. They are meeting only with men and boys, and tell us that later women psychologists or social workers will be visiting the women. They have been in numerous Palestinian localities which the army has demolished in the last few days, and tell us that inhabitants of Khirbet Tana, east of Beit Furiq are in the worst state, totally demolition-struck. (On February 9th the army demolished 2 dwellings in which 13 persons were living, including 4 minors, and another 11 sheep pens, as reported by B’Tselem).
During the past week I have tried to tell friends and acquaintances in Israel about the destruction I have witnessed. I net indifferent looks and heard responses such as “They shouldn’t build without construction permits”, or “If I would build a wall to close my porch the authorities would demolish it, too”. Well, they wouldn’t. If you’re a Jewish Israeli, there’s no chance for them to come and demolish your home. There are dozens of other procedures to deal with the infraction. And the greatest difference is that Palestinians in Areas C of the West Bank have no option but to build illegally, for ever since the Occupation in 1967 Israel has not been issuing them construction permits.
But most upsetting of all is the lack of any human compassion. The callousness and intentional blindness to the fact that home is everything. It is warmth in winter and shade in summer, it is safety, quiet, sleep and wakefulness, it is food and cleanliness, it is one’s refuge in illness. I keep seeing the loss of all of these in the lost gaze of the people whose lives have been turned upside down by wanton cruelty. They have become demolition-struck.