Masafer Yatta's Story | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Masafer Yatta's Story

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Wednesday, 27 July, 2022
map of masafer yatta
Map of Masafar Yatta region, South Hebron Hills
MachsomWatch interactive map


It is quite an experience just to cross from Omer in Southern Israel by the Meitar Checkpoint into the poor arid area of South Hebron Hills. Omer is a peaceful, luscious and green community, where people sleep securely at night, not surprised by army raids or by vandalizing settlers.

It is the middle of July, I am back in Masafer Yatta on a MachsomWatch shift.  I was here two months ago when we protested in vain against the planned eviction of the local villages. Life in the now active “firing zone” is tough.

At Jinba, a family with small children heading to visit relatives in a neighboring village for the holiday of Eid al-Adha* had their car confiscated by the army. The car had a legal license but the family was told that they had entered not only a firing zone, but also a closed military area. Entering this area with a car means that the vehicle can be confiscated and any person on foot can be arrested.  The family was taken for questioning and then sent on their way on foot in the heat of the day. A wonderful way to spend a holiday. I thought to myself that this is just another way to cut Palestinians off from contact with the outside world, activists, diplomats, just anyone who can tell their story to the world. In other words, their lives will become more and more circumvented.


* Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to Allah's command. 

We visited the home of Saud Dababsi at Khalet al Daba (a village of 75 residents). He told us that he had been working outside in the garden and his wife and children were in the house when suddenly tank projectile came right through the tin roof. It could not have been a random shot. The house must have been targeted in a firing drill. 

I looked at the little boy sitting on his grandfather's lap and wondered, as I have so often done when I see children, what does the future holds for them. I wondered what memories this child will have. What traumas? And, unlike Israeli children, there is little hope that he will ever be given any psychological help.

I also thought of other men who had told us their stories. I wondered if they still feel any hope when they receive delegations from all over the world as they do. I say to them that when I came to Israel, I came with a white heart hoping for justice for all.  Now my heart is black with shame and grief. They said that we must all keep on coming. That it does give them hope.

Today some people said to me that they no longer go to any demonstrations or protests because they did not believe in them. I did not waste my time saying that however black the situation is…and it is …and I too have little hope but we have to keep on trying.

שני גברים וילד על ספה, דלת פתוחה החוצה
Three generations at the Dababsi home
Michal Tsadik
Tank shrapnel
Tank shrapnel that penetranted the tin roof, Halet Al Daba
Hagai El'ad, Be'tselem


Flash back to a demonstration in May


On a very hot Friday, May 20th, I joined a peace activists` demonstration against the eviction of over 1,000 Masafer Yatta residents The colonist-settlers from nearby settlements were there to attack us. Magically, the line drawn for the firing zone has excluded their adjacent settlements by a hairsbreadth.  We had hardly gotten to the top of the hill when the soldiers, accompanying the settlers, started throwing gas cylinders at us. There was no violence on our part. They were herding us like sheep in all directions. I saw what I thought were clouds, but someone pointed out to me the jeep on the hill from which they were firing the gas. 

Suddenly there was a rush, and I saw the girl who was helping me (as I cannot go with my bad leg on rough ground) turning and shouting: “Don’t fire! Don’t fire!” and as the words came out of her mouth, I heard a loud bang behind me and I was enveloped in gas. I could not see, my eyes were stinging, my face was burning and I could not breathe. Suddenly I was swung up and carried down the hill completely dazed. Afterwards I found out that it was one of the Palestinian Red Cross people who had carried me to the ambulance. I managed to locate and thank him. I also told him that it was a long time since I had been in the arms of a young man…

People ask me why I do all this at my age. I admit that I came to Israel from South Africa believing Apartheid rule cannot ever be administered here by Jews. And now, what is being done in my name is terrible and I will fight it in the only way I have open to me, hoping to draw more younger people to protest.

One more thing, if you don’t like the Palestinian flag, so sorry to enrage you with this picture. I will always stand with the Palestinian flag in the Occupied Territories. One of the women asked me to be photographed with them, she told me her name means Hope in Arabic and she said she still had hope. Me…. not in my lifetime.

people with flags
Nayanya and protestors in Masafar Yatta, 20.5.22