Jordan Valley: Broken people, people clinging to hope
Guest: Sarit from B’Tselem
“Nights Maryam cries, just cries. I have no life, she says…” Mussa tells us, her husband who was sleep on a bench under a cardboard cover when we arrived (at 12 noon). Yes, it’s understandable – Maryam, like her entire family, is a severe diabetic and the disease has nearly blinded her. In recent months we would take her to an eye doctor in Jericho and pay for having shots into her eye every month. Indeed, her right eye has greatly improved. In a month’s time we’ll take her to the eye clinic for a checkup and it will be decided if and how to continue treatment.
But in the meantime diabetes is attacking more organs in her body. She is nearly paralyzed for back pain, and her right leg is as swollen as a balloon.
Her husband’s leg is in serious condition and the doctors wish to amputate 2 of his toes.
But they cannot afford medical treatment, so they sit at the entrance to their tent, and await death, coming slowly.
It is terrible to see this family. Surrounded by junk, torn sheets of cloth, twisted rods and rusted parts of what until August was their home. Then came “our” glorious army, strong against the weakest, and demolished their home. In September the army confiscated a caravan provided by the Palestinian Authority, and in November it confiscated again an unfinished structure that their son built at some distance from the original home, out of the rods and tarpaulins that Buma Inbar and we donated. That’s it. The fam ily, which is dysfunctional at best, has given up and no longer re-builds anything.
The son and his wife (the only member of the family working and bearing the entire household expenses alone) sleep every night in an abandoned car, because the tiny pup tent donated to them by the Red Crescent is not waterproof.
At times I think, what runs through the soldiers’ minds as they see these broken-down people and demolish their measly tent. What justification do they find? Day after tomorrow is the Holocaust Memorial Day, and as I do every year – I wonder what made Germans, usually pain regular human beings, to do that awful deed? And here I find the answer – when you strip people of their humanity and no longer view them as people, everything is possible. Even the worst of it all.
At Fasail we met a different family, living in a simple but nice-looking stone house with a large and shaded porch. When we arrived, the mother and her 18-year old daughter ran to us and warmly invited us to their porch. The mother, elder daughter and 12-year old on sit on the ground amidst piles of vine leaves, sorting them out into packs of 1-kg each. The father works in the vineyards of the settler-colony Tomer, and buys the leaves from the owner. They receive 1 shekel per pack. They work from 8 a.m. until evening. The sitting is uncomfortable, the pay low – but they are still merry and full of laughter. Slowly the entire neighborhood arrives to look at us around the porch. The elder daughter says she quit school after the 8th grade because she got engaged. “But I divorced him” she says. “He was smoking hashish”. Considering her beauty, she seems not to face problems finding someone better…
We arrived at the En Al Hilwa spring around 4:15 p.m. There were a few settler-colonists present, a family with little children wading in the water, and a young couple lovingly conversing on a bench. It was all peaceful and nice. Then Fathi and his son came with their cattle, careful not to pass above the site, and not get close to the spring which until two weeks ago had been the only water source for him and all the nearby communities. He makes a large detour and takes his cattle to drink of the filthy water dripping down from the spring after the robbers dirtied it. He says the settler-colonists forbid him to get close to the pool. They deny it. The fact is he keeps his distance!