South Hebron mountain Safai: the village is under siege, settlers are stealing sheep
Safai is a hamlet in Massafer Yatta. A clan with five families and 15 children of the Awaz family. We had a rocky time travelling to see them on a 4X4 vehicle. In spite of their proximity to the colonist Havat Maon they are not allowed on paved roads. Only the colonists and the army is allowed there. We came bringing food stuffs we bought with the donations of our dear friends.
In fact they have been under siege since that ‘black Saturday’ October 7, 2023. When war broke out their vehicles were confiscated, and only the donkey helps them at times to bring food for themselves and feed for their livestock. If caught, they are expelled.
How are you? I ask Suad. She answers with her tired smile: “No one sees someone dancing in the dark”. Namely, no one sees us.
Grandmother/mother Suad says: “Today we were woken up at 4 a.m. by two colonists from Havat Maon. They came on an ATV, made their rounds, made noise and left. The children were startled and fearful.”
We were also told that a week ago colonists came there in civilian clothes, bearing long rifles. They walked around, cursed Suad with the worst curses hurled at women. She decided not to answer lest her sons reply angrily and get in trouble with the colonists.
Every day and night now colonists arrive wearing army uniforms (work clothes…) with their religious tassels and side curls incriminating them. They search for weapons, wreak havoc, intimidate and leave. Several days ago they came to a place between Safai and Umm Touba. They beat up a man and took away 4 sheep. This time the police was summoned, the policemen arrived two hours later, listened, didn’t really believe what they were told. Until they were shown photos of the ATC and what had happened. A complaint was filled out and nothing more was done.
We cannot go out, she says. If we send a boy with a donkey and they catch him, they will beat him up.
They are afraid to take photos for testimony, for fear that their cameras will be taken away. Whoever photographs gets a gun barrel at his brow and threatened. Sometimes they come not only with an ATV but also with a pickup truck.
Volunteers coming to them from abroad and from Israel has been expelled and not allowed back. We are shown a house on the slope that the colonists have burnt, its inhabitants having escaped to Yatta.
This is their everyday life.
The father answered my question – how long they have been here: “My grandfather who lived for 90 years and my father who lived to the age of 90 lived here.”
On our way back, at the bus stop near the regional council Meitarim four armed soldiers secure the spot.