Palestinian Jordan Valley, Al Hama
Across the road from Mekhola, the first Jewish settlement built in the Palestinian Jordan Valley in 1968, the illegal outpost “Giv’at Sal’it” was erected in late 2001. (The earlier settlement Mekhola, too, is illegal according to international law, but the later outpost is illegal even in terms of the occupation regime itself). The outpost was financed by the government Ministry of Construction and Housing, although it was not endorsed by state authorities. It is connected to the power grid and a convenient road connects it to the main (Allon) thoroughfare. 9 families live there in 16 caravans, but additional stone construction is already underway.
As usual, this does not suffice the settlers, and they have recently put up a large wooden shack in the heart of a shady clump of trees outside the outpost fence, about a kilometer away. Next to the shed they placed several sofas, a large orange dumpster, and kitchen - a lovely “retreat” from the outpost guys.
But for the inhabitants of neighboring Al Hama this place is no retreat. It is home! Here they would graze their flocks all year round, and across the hill to the north, are their dwellings. They live there with their children in several tents, tin shanties and maintain several sheep pens – about 20 families all in all.
Dwelling? Sorry. Until yesterday they still had a roof over their heads. Yesterday the bulldozers came, at the settlers’ behest, driven and escorted by Israeli soldiers, and demolished the village - all its tents, shacks, sheep pens, as well as outhouses. Even the solar energy collectors were smashed by the forces of evil (which has not been done anywhere else so far…). Villagers all found themselves exposed to the sun and late summer heat, the women pleaded with us – “we have no privacy for washing up and relieving ourselves. Please help us get an outhouse”.
The landowners (this is privately-owned Palestinian land, officially registered) and its leasers sat with us – volunteers of Machsomwatch, Taayush and Rabbi Asherman. They were incredibly warm and friendly to us, after our own fellow nationals have inflicted the worst on them – demolished their home. They insist on continuing to graze their livestock on their own land – accompanied by Taayush volunteers – and will not back off because of the settlers who settled on their land.
Five years ago, too, the occupation army demolished their home and I met them then, in freezing winter weather, as they began to straighten the warped iron rods, collect pieces of plastic in addition to the plastic sheets that Guy of Taayush and I brought them – all in order to restore their home.
Next Saturday, October 8, we plan to come and help rebuild the village again. Everyone is invited to join us! (information forthcoming)