Visiting Al Khadr and Shoshahleh
We met Yasser Tzalach at Al Kahdr’s best humous restaurant. He told us the Nabi Daniel maqam is situated on his land, and that the vineyards next to Nabi Daniel (Neve Daniel) belong to him and his sister. He’s pleased, on the one hand, at the widening of the road, because he can reach his land in ten minutes, whereas it formerly took him between an hour and an hour and a half by donkey. On the other hand, he complains he cannot make a living because of the price of grapes. The farmers charge only 5 NIS /kilo, and his wife sells them by the roadside. We arranged to meet him in Shoshahleh to see his home, but he didn’t come.
We continued to Shoshahleh, situated on a hilltop, along an unpaved track, in Mundir’s vehicle. He’s Sa’ad’s son-in-law. We know Sa’ad Tzalach from previous visits. Clusters of grapes hang in Mundir’s arbor next to his house, a feast for the eyes and delicious. We moved to Sa’ad Tzalach’s home, sat in his arbor, drank tea and ate sunflower seeds.
Then he took us for a tour of his vineyard and vegetable garden. He’d prepared the land prior to the Corona epidemic and brought fertile soil. Now his vineyard and garden are flourishing. He divided the land into four equal sections, for each of his four sons. He also showed us a room demolished by the army even though he claimed it had been constructed years ago. The matter had been litigated in court, the Civil Administration lost the case and he was granted either compensation or for the structure to be rebuilt. He chose to rebuild but hasn’t yet begun the work. He’s waiting for confirmation from the court.
Mundir told us they’re being harassed at night in an attempt to chase them from their homes. It’s their home, his father and grandfather built it and they have documents proving it’s their land. Mundir’s home was broken into, the door broken, photocopies stolen of documents proving he’s the landowner, and from time to time the bulb illuminating the arbor has been stolen. Complaints to the police did no good. All that started when a new security coordinator was appointed in Neve Daniel; the previous coordinator didn’t harass them.
Since municipal services – clinics, schools, shopping centers - are located in Al Khadr, they’re forced to travel along an unpaved road to reach them. Mundir says that if he did not have a powerful car he and his family would not be able to get there. We asked about water; they said Tzalach descends by donkey three or four times a day to bring 4-5 gallons each time from the pool, while Mundir goes in the car and brings 16 gallons.
Now the road to Shoshahleh is accessible from the highway because it’s being widened and the new road to Neve Daniel is being paved, but who knows what will happen when the work is completed and the road will be closed.
The future is uncertain. How will they reach their land – on foot? How will they water the vineyards and the vegetable garden?
Their lives are difficult, but at the same time they’re friendly, pleasant people, and they welcomed us. Mundir has a five-month-old daughter. Tzalach’s wife is also pleasant and smiling. She didn’t want us to leave. “Why so soon?”, she said.