Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Fri 3.4.09, Morning

Na'ama, Ofra B. (reports)

7:30 – 18:00
We left Beit Shemesh in the morning.  The weather is foggy and we are accompanied by several shepherds in Sussia who want to get to their fields far away from their village close to a settlement and are afraid to go alone.

Sansana - Maitar Checkpoint
Light pedestrian traffic.  A few transits and several people are waiting in the parking lot on the Israeli side.  There is no one in the checkpoint.  There are several cars waiting in the vehicle inspection area.

Road 60 
It is relatively early.  There is thick fog and almost no traffic.  The hills have become green after the recent rains, but there has not been enough.  We continue to be optimistic and hope that this area will get a little more rain.

Sussia: the usual morning routine.  The shepherds have not yet come out of their tents.  We sit in Nasser’s tent chatting, drinking a lot of tea and trying to think together about what can be done about the new construction that has begun recently on the hill distant from the settlement.
Around 9:00 we go on a hike through the south Hebron hills with the shepherds. The sky begins to clear and the sun comes out.  We reach the hill behind the archeological site with the shepherds.  Nasser tells me that a plow exhibited in the museum there was left behind by the Palestinian residents of Sussia when they fled when the settlement was evacuated in the 1980s.  He says that there is a sign hanging on the plow that says it is from the Biblical period. We laugh at the Jews’ ability to make a valuable heritage out of everything – even if it is not ours. Near the fence at the site the Jews plowed the sections in a haphazard manner and planted wheat. Now, when the flocks have arrived, they can say that it is their wheat and their land.  We deliberately go farther up with the herds into the fields. The sheep are very pleased because the grass is good there. The atmosphere is pastoral and calm.  About two hours later, three settlers arrive.  Two remain far away, while one breaks into a run towards the fence, shouting and making a lot of noise, to frighten the sheep and scatter them (as was done last week). When he sees the cameras aimed at him he retreats. Several minutes later we see three adults – two men and a woman – and two small children walking about the site. One of the men who is holding a babyinfo-icon girl and leading a small boy by the hand descends towards us. The other young man, who can now be identified as the one who attempted to frighten the sheep away, remained behind with the woman. The father, a religious man from Arad, comes towards us. “He has to know what brings us here.” There is pleasant conversation for a few minutes. There are, of course, differences of opinion that cannot be bridged but people are listening to each other.  We reach an impasse when he declares that he believes in violence, is prepared to sacrifice his children for the land on which we are standing, and anyone who believes that the conflict can be solved in any other way is naïve and gullible. I can only feel sorry for him. He turns to leaves, going back to his wife. At this point the young man -- who I now identify as a known troublemaker whom I have seen before on several occasions – begins to descend towards the sheep. I take out my camerainfo-icon and photograph him. He stops and sits down. The other young man attempts to blame me and claims that I am taking pictures in order to be disruptive. What would you say to this? We are then joined by two more. We sit down next to a nearby well, light a fire, prepare tea and eat pita bread with organic preserves made from fruit grown in Sussia.  It’s the best preserves I’ve ever eaten. We sit there, a group of young people, drinking tea and talking. The hills are green and the sun caresses our backs. The sheep have stopped grazing and have been watered and rest nearby.This is how the south Hebron hills will look when peace comes. Amen.