Abu Kbeita - contrary to the High Court's decision, settlers are trying to take over private land

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Smadar and Michal (reporting and photographing) with Muhammad; Translator: Natanya
אבו קביטה - מטפחים את גינתם על אף הקשיים
גינה בבית אבו קביטה

We went to a large compound of the Jabarin clan. Several families live there in difficult conditions and poverty with over 30 children. Both complexes overlook the Mitzpe Avigayil settlement which is much too close and is growing and expanding all the time. One sees what the plans of the settlers are. Meanwhile, the wadi still separates them.

We bought food for these two large families, thanks to your donations and got there, thanks to the 4×4.

 A little after Meitar, along the renovated fence, a post has been set up with soldiers. It is near the place of the large gap that was there. Everything looks very secure, fences upon fences. And yet we heard that there are still places where you can enter Israel for a few hundred shekels. When people are desperate, they will do anything they can to make a living.

On the way, before we entered the dirt roads to them, we saw that in one of the entrance roads to Samu’ that was recently blocked and opened, military and police personnel arrived and inspected the people coming from Samu’ to the main road.

We first went to Isma’il, the brother of Is’hak, who lives in the shacks next to him. In the darkness of the hut, Asma, his wife, sits and skilfully rolls vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. The sort of thin "cigarettes" as are sold in the store. He also has another wife; her name is Yasmin. A lot of children are running around there, among them I noticed at least three who seem to have special needs. We also brought sweets for the children. It's the eve of Eid al-Fitr and I'm sure we made everyone happy.

From the yard of the family compound, which looks like a scrap yard, you can see how close the Avigayil settlement is and how easily the settlers can come and go so as to frighten and threaten the Palestinians.

From there we entered the yard of Is’hak, the older brother, who lives next door. He tells us again about settlers who come every day, shout, scare the children and make obscene gestures. He says that in the month of Ramadan he does not want to confront them. He wants the month to pass peacefully and without arrests. He has 4 volunteers, two from Israel and two from the USA, who sleep there and their presence helps a bit. When we arrived at noon, they escorted the shepherds to the pasture. He says that 3 days ago a settler arrived from Avigayil and sent two drones that also entered the houses. He was afraid to touch and take them down so it should not provoke the settlers who are constantly trying to find reasons for conflicts and to justify the violence on their part. These drones are sent over the herds of sheep to scare them.

We sat for a while, looked at Avigayil, heard what was happening and drove to Mahmoud Abu Kbeita, who lives next to the Metsadot Yehuda checkpoint on the Israeli side. He has had to fight threats and the fear of being driven out together with his cousins who live next to him.

The behaviour of the authorities has worsened again since October 7.

We went to visit him because there had been a very violent incident. He was arrested and detained on the pretext that he had attacked the settler Bezalel Talia and had only been released the day before. The opposite, by the way, is true, as the Talia family who have the authority and permission to enter his land, and tried to drive his son away. A violent brawl developed to the point that that the son had to be hospitalized in Soroka Hospital and he and his two sons were handcuffed and detained for the night.

When we got to him, the injured son still had bandages on his head, and everyone was still shocked by the violence which they had experienced on their own land. He was released only after he deposited 2,000 NIS for each of them. Attorney Kamar Mishraki handles their affairs.

The next day, Othman and Mustafa, the cousins, sent me the paperwork from the High Court that returned the land to them back in 2006 and now the settlers, under the auspices of the 7.10 disaster, have tried to fence the land and take it over.

Indeed, another day passed, and another legal paper was sent with the latest ruling that the land does not belong to the settlers but belongs to the Palestinian family. I also received a video from them showing the IDF forces destroying the fence built by the people of Moshav Beit Yatir in the attempt to take their land from them.

Despite the violent event, some kind of justice has been done here in the meantime.