Israeli Annexation will kill my son’s hope and this will result in violence
The plan was to have a group of Haaretz journalists meet Palestinian residing in the Jordan Valley, in order to have them voice their views on the Podcast to be aired on Tuesday, June 16, about the planned annexation. We were to meet I., a researcher for B’Tselem (human rights organization) but he didn’t show. We think the Palestinian Authority had issued an instruction not to meet with Israelis. But our second interviewee, Abu Saker, was glad to meet and be interviewed. We spoke with him in the morning, before meeting the journalists, and it was such a pleasure! No one in this region is smarter than he, in expressing himself so well. Pure pleasure. He is not afraid to voice his opinions and criticize whoever he thinks should be dealt with. One of his apt expressions: “Why should I fear annexation? A person already wet does not fear the rain!” After having his home demolished by the Israeli authorities so many times, the water pipe he brought especially from Area A cut by the same, after they destroyed a gravel track he had prepared so that his daughters could access school, after being expelled, arrested along with his sons countless times, what could anyone still do to this 71-year old man? And still, he says that practically speaking “I am not sure annexation would be worse than this brutal occupation. However, annexation will kill our children’s hope and I fear that this will lead to violence.”
We met Abu Saker again in the afternoon and the Haaretz team recorded him.
After visiting Abu Saker, we went to visit Burhan’s family. The daughter, about to be married is madly in love and hides behind the tent as she speaks with her fiancé, since there are ten more people in the tent, and not a bit of privacy. Thus 24 hours a day… (especially at night). Rachel sits on the tent ground with the mother and daughters, and I look on with envy on this women’s-talk spaced with laughter and tears. What a pleasure to be fluent enough in a language to be able to have such close friendship! One of them, a 15-year old, reads us a story she wrote and for which she won a prize. I didn’t understand everything. I did understand that a soldier chases the protagonists and sprays him with bullets until the hero falls dead. This is the world of Palestinian youth growing up in the shadow of army terror, and the only reality they know. Except, perhaps, for the tenderness and affection in encounters with women like Rachel, that reflects such a different side from the Israeli violence they experience.
A visit to Al Hamma in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley
We were asked to bring some money to buy milk for A.R.’s twin-baby grandchildren. Their economic state is dire. We sat in a kind of open hospitality tent with him and his 4 sons, and later his wife and daughter joined us. Everyone sits apart and do not approach us because of the Corona-virus pandemic. The son tells us that during the lockdown, when we didn’t come to accompany them to their grazing grounds, the Jewish settler-colonist who sits over their heads since September 2016, drove with his mini-tractor into the Palestinian’s flock that was grazing in their regular grazing area. 20 sheep were killed this way. They will not lodge a complaint, they are scared. The father even tries to hush up the son so he wouldn’t speak of the incident. During the entire meeting we sensed the fear in the air. Now they graze near home, across the road, east of the encampment. During the lockdown they came close to being famished, and under settler-colonist terrorism their situation is still dire.
Along road 90 and Allon Road we see vast black areas – burnt. It’s a harsh sight, especially for whoever did experience the green lushness of winter and spring in these parts. For years the Palestinians pray for rain, because Israel denies them water, and now – finally a real rainy season – everything is lost due to one army maneuver in the middle of the harvest season.
A’ of Toubas calls Rachel, and asks for accompaniment for the combine that is supposed to harvest his field. The field is located north of settler-colony Roi, surrounded by vast areas taken over by its settler-colonists. The combine driver is afraid to enter the field, owned and tended by A. He is afraid the settler-colonists would attack and the Israeli army would arrive and confiscate his combine. If this happens, the combine – so necessary these days – would stand for months in the army sheds and he would have to ransom it for thousands of shekels. This often happens here.
We proceeded to the iftlik to Odeh’s family. Odeh was expelled from Al Hadidiya 10 months ago, an army officer told him he would demolish his home and confiscate the tents if he finds him there at dawn. The entire family packed all their belongings and moved at night with a tractor to which a platform was attached, to the Jiftlik. An Israeli truck collided with them, killed his one-month old daughter, and seriously wounded his wife.
Odeh was grazing his flock all day. We spoke with his mother. Sarah, his wife, who recovered by now, was sleeping. Here too we noticed people refrained from getting near us and sit several meters away, but glad to see us. Sarah is 8-months pregnant. They and their two sisters-in-law told us about the hard times they had during lockdown, which was very carefully observed.