Jordan Valley, Fassayוl: Terrible despair

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Tzvia Shapira, Daphne Banai (report), Translated by Tal H.
רואים אוהל עשוי מטלאים של ניילונים ושמיכות קרועות
האם הזקנה והחולה יושבת על כיסא ועל ידה יושב בנה חפוי ראש
שלט ועליו רשימת התורמים האירופאים לבית הספר באל מליח

Opposite the Israeli settler-colony of Beqa’ot, beyond the dirt dyke, we saw a new encampment and new vineyards. We tried to cross the Gokhia gate in order to reach Ras Al Ahmar, and got stuck in the mud. We then decided to turn back and wait for drier weather…

We visited the Ka’abana community west of Allon Road, between Samara and En Al Hilwa. This is a family we have never visited before. A young 20-year old woman was startled and looked at us suspiciously. She is from the Jab’a area near Ramallah and reached this area when she married two years ago. She has no idea where she is, and has no contact with any of the neighbor families. She lives here with her husband and his brother and wife. The phone and its games are the best friends she has.

A visit at the kindergarten and school at Hamam al Malih

The kindergarten will function inside an existing structure that has undergone renovations inside. Mahdi gave us a tour of the place. The schoolhouse is closed today: two new structures with 1st-3rd grades and a teachers’ room. The structures have been covered with a tarpaulin so as not to stand out. In the school yard artificial green grass is spread, serving the area’s children for lively games. Israel hurried to issue a demolition order for the school and the kindergarten. The grounds for the order are a supposed archeological site…. Palestinian archeologists have checked and found that the site has never been dug and contains no sign of antiquities of any kind. Before we continued we realized one of our tires was punctured. One of the Palestinians brought a compressor, filled the tire with air, and we drove on to the garage in En Al Beida. The garage was closed so we decided to continue as is, with the tack stuck in the tire, and hope we could somehow conclude our day. Kadri, Mahdi’s father, said he would not pay the 3,000 NIS fine to free the cow that was confiscated from him – he cannot afford it. He said one cow is not worth that sum. Last time a cow was confiscated, the fine stood at 150 shekel. Apparently the height of the fine is arbitrary and given to someone’s mood.

We asked Mahdi when Humsa inhabitants would receive solar panels? Ever since the demolition in early November Humsa has no electricity and the villagers move around in the dark with tiny lamps. He said that in many shepherd communities batteries charged from the solar panels have run dry, and the PA has not the means to replace them or purchase panels for Humsa.  Asking people there, we found out that Ashraf and Abu Halaf’s batteries have run out and they have not had electricity for weeks now.

We stopped at our friend’s grocery in Jiftlik village. We have not seen him for 9 months. Before the pandemic we used to share a cup of coffee with him, but in recent months his son was there instead, and it has been more difficult to communicate with him. He told us his wife got ill and was hospitalized in Nablus, where she caught the Covid-19 virus. When she came home from hospital, she infected his mother who died of the disease.

In the late afternoon, we reached Fassayוl, in the central Palestinian Jordan Valley.  We came back to the old couple whose home was demolished by the Israeli army in August 2020, and a month later, in September, it confiscated their caravan which had been donated by the Red Crescent. In November it confiscated a structure of aluminum arches that Buma Inbar had donated, and which had not yet been covered. Their son built about 500 meters from there.

Home demolition is an inconceivably cruel form of harassment. Whether in scathing sun or in the frost of winter nights, it leaves the elderly and ill or small children exposed and unsheltered. All of their belongings are strewn around, they are broken and desperate, and if that is not enough – when they erect a tent next to the rubble, the army returns and crushes it tool. What a trampling, evil regime it is that brings thousands of Jews to the Palestinian Territories, builds them beautiful villas surrounded with lawns and blooming trees, swimming pools and youth and sports centers, while it demolishes the measly dwellings of the villagers time and again. It is their home, for God’s sake!

Every time I witness this with them, I break, can’t stand it any longer. And every time I return to my warm and safe home and there is nothing I can do!

The elderly couple (she is 55, and he 60) look 90-years old. She is blind, and can hardly doddle with her cane, and her husband’s leg is swollen and black. It might have to be amputated. Their image and their children’s has been with me now for 5 months.

The old woman pours us tea without sugar and misses the glasses. The tea is poured on the stool that serves as a table. I take the teapot from her and pour some for everyone. I look at the married son and his 15- and 16-year old brothers. Their body language speaks despair. They are down, surrounded with torn cloth and broken rods. I see a broken family. They are all diabetic. Their parents are dying right in front of them and nothing can be done for them. The married son sleeps in a small tent of cloth and nylon patches. During rainy nights he an his wife Dalal sleep in an abandoned car parked nearby.