Again homes are mercilessly demolished
“Please help us get back our tractors, we have no water!” said Ali Bani Odeh’s 5-year old son who approached me and handed me a balloon. His home had been demolished just one hour earlier.
Three months ago I wrote “Ali’s Rage” (attached) after his home was demolished, his tractor – his source of livelihood – confiscated, and to top it all off, the army, under the pretext of military maneuvers, chased him out of the temporary dwelling tent organized for him by emergency organization.
Today at 10 a.m. once more the yellow destruction machines arrived, escorted by army jeeps and the Civil Administration’s white pickup trucks (the administration that was founded after the 1967 war to cater to the needs of the civilian Palestinian population, but in fact serves mainly to damage that population in the most effective, cruelest manner).
Ali lives in Ras Al Ahmar with his wife Dalal and their five children. The place is highly fertile, its ground containing plenty of water. Ali, however, may not pump a single drop. Since the region has been declared a firing zone, many generations after Ali’s family began living there, he may not even introduce a tractor to carry water and feed for his flock. For three months Ali’s tractor as well as the tractors of 6 other residents have been held by the Civil Administration. These people call me on a daily basis, desperate – these tractors are as vital to them as hands and feet.
Two weeks ago they were notified of the fine they must pay. They ran to the postal bank and paid. All of them. But then the Civil Administration got clever – now they must also sign a commitment not to re-introduce tractors into the area. What can they do with the tractor if it cannot bring them water? Without water, this is no less than expulsion. It has no other name!
The army demolished 4 dwelling tents this time, as well as a kitchen, an outdoor oven and two sheep pens. A neighbor donated a small tent for the first hours after the destruction.
All we can say is that we have no words. How horrendous is the sight of a family next to its belongings all strewn around, their home piles of warped metal and shredded cloth.
The Invasion of the Umm Zuka nature reserve - Jewish settlers invade the nature reserve and firing zone unimpeded, and begin to build a new settlement. THe place is blooming.
We found two adults with two small children there, and a girl toiling at the kitchen (where else?) who said the place has no name yet. Another 6 settler youths were busy with various tasks. The cattle was nowhere to be seen.
The Palestinian shepherds tell us of numerous harassments by the settlers. They graze their cattle across the nature reserve area and walk it from one end of the reserve to the other - from the Umm Zuka outpost (not far from Allon Road) to Brosh Ha-Biq’a settlement on road 90, and from there to Maskiyot settlement (to Allon Road) and from there southbound back to the outpost. On their way they threaten and attack any Palestinian shepherd they run across.
En Al Hilwa – we have a talk with M., who tells us that ever since the extensive military maneuver last November, thousands of unexploded shells lie around on the ground, just waiting for that shepherd boy who will spot a strange object and handle it, or step on it, and lose his life. All the warnings and requests that the army clean up after itself remain unheard. After all, what is the life of a Palestinian shepherd boy? Who cares?
Three days later 10/2/2017
Today at 10 a.m., 5 settlers, among them two uniformed and armed soldiers, arrived and assaulted 3 Palestinian shepherds who were grazing their cattle on their registered privately owned land. The settlers tied the Palestinians up, beat them and searched them, and proceeded to confiscate their IDs and phones. We and other (distant) Palestinian eye witnesses phoned the Civil Administration and the police. No one came. However, the police must have called the assailants, who then released the Palestinians, gave them back their belongings and told them to get lost. THe Palestinians refused, saying "this is our land and we will not budge". The settlers moved away. Another 2 shepherds arrived to be with the Palestinians. At present, 1 p.m., they are all there, at the site.
The police promised to send a police officer on Sunday.