House demolition at Sika village, sorrow and shame

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Hagit Beck (reporting and photographing) , Muhamad


The Separation Wall along road 358 (south-west Hebron Hills) is erected on the Green Line set up by the 1949 armistice agreement. Along the wall, from south to north, the old Palestinian villages of Al Bourj, Sika and Beit Iba are located. Entry into these villages is permitted through the Negohot checkpoint. This area, according to the Oslo accords, is inside Area B (joint control by Israel and the PA), and the villages themselves are Area A (full Palestinian control).

We drove to our vigil through the Negohot checkpoint today. We were preceded by a convoy including a D9 bulldozer, a vehicle of the Civil Administration, 2 large vans of the Border Police, and another 2 military vehicles. We followed them because we know such sights from the Negev in Israel-proper. This is what house demolition looks like. We arrived at the demolition site by the road that stretched out behind the red sign warning Israelis of entering Area A. The demolition forces came from behind, avoiding driving through the village, probably not wishing to create more havoc than was already there.

The only sin of the house owner and his family was having built a house close to the Separation Fence. The Israeli army was issued special permission from the Israeli court to demolish new structures inside the area of the Palestinian Authority (Area A) if built close to the fence (I believe the distance in question is half-a-kilometer).  Therefore, demolitions are taking place inside Area A which is supposedly under exclusive Palestinian control. The Palestinian family was surprised. They were not issued any demolition orders. The house itself borders on one of the village schools.

When the army forces, bulldozer and vehicles arrived, the villagers went to help the family and confronted the Border Police which distanced them from the site. All that time, schoolchildren looked at the goings-on from the school yard. This is how hatred is bred.

People looked at me with unfathomable hatred. Being a leftist woman does not exempt me from my responsibility for the occupation. Still, we were there to document. We have about 100 photos and some videos. We got away feeling heavy, after the Border Police began hurling stun grenades, and before using teargas.

This story does not interest the journalists to whom I reported. As Ohad Hamo says: the routine of occupation. And I have no idea where to hide my sorrow and shame.