Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Wed 31.10.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We left at 10 AM.
The Meitar checkpoint is empty, except for trucks being inspected.
We drove along Route 317 in order to see how the Israeli settlement of Sussiya was expanding and the terrible situation of the original Palestinian Sussiya. We continued on a new road to A-Tawwani which crosses through the village and connects its two parts. It’s a great improvement, thanks to European funding and the organization of villages in the area, a welcome grassroots initiative.
We met with DOVE members in their office. They told us about themselves and about the organization. It’s interesting that they don’t lack for volunteers, usually young people, some of whom remain for periods of a year or more. They’re “recognized” by the Vatican but not funded by the Holy See. Activists staying for a year or more receive a salary; it’s not clear to us how the organization is funded. They told us that for now the army cooperates in escorting children to school and the trip is relatively peaceful.
We stopped at Nasser’s house next to the excavations, which have now stopped. He erected a pen for goats in the middle of the excavation (which annoyed me because the place is neglected and filthy, apparently on purpose). Nasser said that settlers show up from time to time. He still has no water line (as you remember, that’s how the business with the excavation began), but he has gotten an electric line from the Civil Administration. The village has become widely known; they enjoy international support. Nevertheless, they fear the planned expulsion of eight villages from the area will apply to them as well. The army fenced the village on the southeast in order to create a closed military area and also confiscated vehicles.
We walked down the worshippers route to look at the “temporary” barriers. We entered the Cave of the Patriarchs, which wasn’t any better than it had been when I visited last week, but was now filled with Israeli tourists, most of them secular, praying fervently, as well, of course, as the settlers who live in Hebron who were busy in various activities: prayer, study, eating cake (!) and PR groups. Gwen was pretty shocked. We then went down to the street to the sounds of the fireworks welcoming those returning from Mecca and an obligatory tour along Shuhadeh Street to Tel Rumeida – all the checkpoints were quiet, and next to the booth at Tel Rumeida we saw a heart-warming event: a soldier genially pulled to safety a two-year old child who’d wandered into the road.
When we reached the Meitar checkpoint Gwen’s passport was taken for inspection, ostensibly because “there was a problem with it.” She was very concerned, because a few of the volunteers on her project had been expelled from the country, and one hadn’t even been allowed to enter the Jewish State. Gwen felt there was a growing tendency to isolate international activists; she herself had been repeatedly delayed entering Israel. Thanks to our acquaintance with Motti, the checkpoint manager, we went through after a delay of only 30-45 minutes. To M’s (justified) annoyance, they unloaded his vehicle while we were waiting and even put the license plate through the scanner. Considering that we’re talking about a tourist accompanied by two Israelis, the behavior was completely illogical, but that’s the situation. Gwen was very impressed by Machsom Watch’s efficiency!
The Bedouin village of Al-Araqib
From there to Al-Araqib, where we were received warmly; they told Gwen of their many hardships. During our activities in opposition to the occupation we tend to forget the discrimination and dispossession suffered by the Palestinian citizens of Israel, part of the same racist phenomenon, lust for land and being drunk with power that goes far beyond “occupation.”
Muhammad played a very important role in making today a success – far more than simply driving safely and well. He’s a full partner!