Ruins at El Maita, Jordan Valley: Why did they destroy?

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Nurit Popper (photos), Daphne Banai (report)

In the area of Al Meyteh in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, near the road leading to Toubas, live several families of the poorest in the region. Some tents are scattered along the way, destitute. Yesterday at 10 a.m. bulldozers of the Israeli occupation forces trampled the few belongings of one of these families. Our friends documented the actual demolition yesterday, and we came to express solidarity and see what could be done.

The Red Crescent provided them with two small white tents. The mother Huda was busy fastening one of them. We were surprised at the warmth with which Mohammad, Huda, they 15-year-old daughter Rajua and their 10-year-old son Khaled greeted us, inside those tents that were empty except for mattresses. The smaller children don’t really understand what’s going on and have gone to kindergarten and school, the older ones are traumatized – cannot study. We expected anger, frustration, talk of injustice – and found only acceptance.

The army did not let them get their belongings out of the tents and demolished them with their contents, then piled dirt on the rubble, on the clothes, the kitchen utensils, and the food itself, so they had absolutely nothing left. No salt, nor sugar, no vegetables, and nothing to wear but the clothes on their backs. Luckily, Karin filled my car yesterday with clothes and bedclothes that I could offer them.

One family – parents and their 7 children, the eldest a15-year old girl. Two tents, a kitchen, a sheep pen, solar panels and water tanks. Three large containers filled with water, one white containing 5 cub.m., another 2 black ones, 2 cub.m. each. And all the water is so expensive! The father brings it from afar (because, like all the shepherds in the valley, the family is prevented from having water). Everything was spilled over the dry ground. The father brings water from En Al Beida every 4 days, in a tanker hooked up to a tractor. He does this at night, for fear of the army and police.

Not only did the army destroy the solar panels that provide the family with so little power and are so important now that the days are shorter and night falls early – they also confiscated the charger and batteries. It will take years for this family to have electricity again. At Khalat Makhoul people have been waiting for a battery for the charger for nearly 2 years now.

Even the barley for the animals was scattered here, and just to make sure it won’t be eaten, it too was strewn with dirt.

What can I say? The State of Israel did a thorough job with this miserable family.

I asked Mohammad if he knew the reason for the demolition, and he said: “What difference does it make? Once it’s a firing zone, then it’s a nature reserve, there’s always something.” And he knows. He was born in the area beneath the settler-colony of Rotem and was evicted, erected his tent at Umm Jamal and was expelled, then at En Al Hilwa and was expelled. Always violently, with repeated demolitions. Now, for the past 20 years he has lived with his wife and children here at Al Meyte. Where will they go?