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Anatya Sadeh, Dafna Banai. Translator: Charles K.
Jan-13-2015
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Afternoon

 

 
Tishrabi shai?”  Sara, who’s seven, asks for the hundredth time, pushing her little hand into mine and looking into my eyes.  Her eyes say, “Come to us!”  We parked far away because of the mud in the wadi and walked to Umm Jamal’s encampment laden with blankets and bags of clothing, surrounded by a flock of children who also carried bags.  The sun came out today and everyone’s outside.  Fatma launders children’s clothing kneeling on the ground, her sister-in-law, who’d come to visit, is kneeling beside her.  Both fall upon us with hugs and kisses.  “The plastic sheeting is no good,” Fatma says, “but it protected the tents, the rain didn’t enter.”  They smile happily.  “The entire Palestinian Authority and the entire Red Cross didn’t help us like you helped!” she says.  “But at night, it’s cold.  You could die!!!  In the morning the entire encampment is covered in ice.  You have to break it with a hammer.  We can’t get warm.  We add more and more blankets, and it’s still cold…”

 

We offend them a bit by refusing tea, but we’re in a hurry.  One more cup of tea and all that we drank until now will come back to us.  We visited Muhammad earlier.  We sat with his father, whose leg was amputated, and he told us (over three cups of tea) the history of the place.  His grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather have lived here since Turkish times, then the English came and then the Jordanians.  Right here.  “We never moved away.”  Other families arrived from the southern Hebron hills.  They’ve also been here many years.  The land belongs to the church and once a year they pay them rent.  We hear gunshots; I ask whether it’s the army.  “No, it’s us, our guns and our planes!!” he says and everyone laughs.  This time the mother also joins us, perhaps because no men accompanied us on this visit.

 

Earlier we visited M.’s family at the junction.  They suffered a great deal of damage from the storm.  The mother’s amazing kitchen tent blew away and water flowed into the tents.  The daughter kindles a fire of twigs but they’re wet and don’t light easily.  They smoke badly.  Then the mother takes the grill outside, blew gently on the twigs for a long time and they caught.  They told us the young calves died from the cold and also the vegetables they grow (tomatoes, cucumbers).   M. isn’t here – he’s working.  He’s looking for unexploded ammunition left by the army after maneuvers so another young shepherd won’t be blown up.  The problem is that when he locates one, the army isn’t willing to disarm it.  It remains there, a ticking time bomb.

 

13:20  By the roadside near Hamam el Malih two people are standing – one adult and an old, blind (or almost blind) man.  We stop and offer them a ride to the checkpoint, and explain we can’t take them farther because we’re not allowed through.  They tried to get a taxi but they are all full.  They wonder who we are.  They never heard of us.  They get out at the checkpoint and advance toward the soldiers without waiting for their signal.  The younger man supports the old blind man.  “Wakf!!” yells the soldier.  Stop.  “Irja ‘lwarra!”  Go back.  Because ordnung muss sein.  Why must they go back?  Because they didn’t wait for a sign from the overlord – the soldier.  Now, let them wait.  Finally a private car arrived and took them away.  It also waited ten minutes (the only car there), but wasn’t detained as it crossed except for a brief interrogation:  Whence?  Whither?  Why?  How?

 

We passed the small locality of Halat Makhoul.  Mud everywhere, the result of the huge amount of rain that fell.  Water entered all the tents and froze inside.  The rain destroyed Burhan’s television set.  Najya, Yusuf’s wife, tells us the fields of wheat and barley sprouted nicely after the rain.  But the cold, the bitter cold.  “It’s killing us!!” she says.  They huddle together and cover themselves with whatever they have.  In the morning everything is covered in ice.

 

There were no lines at the Hamra checkpoint, either at 10:30  or at 15:10.  Apparently people crossed quickly.

 

The Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint wasn’t manned.