Rashash and Its residents: Under threat and terror by the “Angels of Peace”

Facebook Twitter Whatsapp Email
Noga Kalinsky, Oren Peled and Mickey Fisher (reporting) Translation: Danah Ezekiel

We left Tel Aviv on Monday at 16:30 to spend the night in the camp of the poor village of Rashash near the village of Duma. This is an area that the State of Israel appropriated under the name Shiloh Valley. According to Jewish tradition, the Shiloh Valley was the place of the Tabernacle for the Holy Ark and perhaps for the Tablets of the Covenant, on which the words of justice were written. There, next to an old and bourgeois-looking settlement, an outpost was established a few years ago, in the place that used to be a military base, an outpost officially named the Angels of Peace.

The outpost receives full services from the mother settlement and its first goal is for Jews to take over the area. In sarcastic but mostly Orwellian contrast to their name, its angelic inhabitants go out every day for sabotage and terror work and by the way of tending their flocks, they push the Palestinian residents who live around them from their houses and fields, with threats, words and warlike tools from clubs to firearms.  All means are kosher to remove them from the place and enable the fulfillment of the messianic vision of settling the land as in the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun. This outpost was recently officially recognized by the right-wing government, and now who will remove it?

The angels of terror are teenagers and young adults from the age of 16 to 30 and over, who flaunt long tassels hanging outside their pants, a large cap and biblical sandals. In addition to older men, they have already succeeded in expelling the residents of two large villages - Kabun and Ein Samia, numbering about 400 men, women and children, who abandoned because they were worn out by the verbal and physical threats and even firearms, which were used on them. The army was called for help from time to time but stood by when the expulsion of the residents to another place was actually happening.

Rashash is also under such a threat. That is why the peace seekers among us were called by various groups, such as 'Torat Tzedek'. 'Zochrot' and 'Looking the occupation with the eyes' to come and try to prevent the expulsion of this village’s residents.

Rashash was founded by the patriarch of the family, Haj Suleiman, who fled in 1948 from Tel Amal near Tivon. He leased land around the valley from one of the Palestinian residents and raised a glorious family that today consists of three family heads numbering about 100 people, with electricity from solar panels and water that they bring in trailer tanks from Ein Samia. There is no school there and the children attend an elementary school in the village of Duma, which is over the mountain at a distance of about 5 kilometers, and leave when they reach high school.

We arrived at the place on a road impassable for normal cars, steep and a little dangerous. The view that spread in front of our eyes in the evening was wonderful - the majesty of the Valley’s Mountains and the Jordan Mountains opposite them. We parked and were welcomed in a Shik (hospitality tent), coffee and tea were served and we went on a short tour of the village. Noga, who had visited here two weeks before, brought framed photographs for the families. We sat with them outside while the children played around us and slid down the slide that one of the protest organizations installed for them. And when the sun went down, each one of them dispersed to their homes.

We returned to Shik where we were served dinner - pita bread, labneh and fries, a gourmet meal, which, no exaggeration, even Eyal Shani (Israeli top chef) can't compete with. We talked about the place and its problems with the local men and at 9:30 we went to bed. Rabbi Eric Asherman advised us to listen for any unusual noise and call him if the terror angels decide to descend. At 12 o'clock we could see a light on the hill in the distance but after fifteen minutes it went out. It isn’t clear what happened, but the whole night passed peacefully. Oren Peled, who was with us, was called with someone else to the nearby settlement of Wadi Sik, and according to his reports, in the middle of the night, the army arrived and searched the camp, apparently for someone…

We woke up at sunrise, marveling  once again at the scenery’s grandeur, and wandered through the village. In the distance we could see the women who had gotten up for daily work. Pitas, preparing the children for school, feeding the sheep, etc., etc. We stood at this quiet hour to witness the sunrise and the steep wadi, from which there is a path leading to the spring of Ein Rashash. It has been 3 years since the Ein Rashash shepherds stopped grazing in the area and reaching their spring due to the violence of the terrorist settlers who grabbed ownership of the place, and now wade, splash and use it as a Mikveh while employing threats to prevent the people of Rashash from coming there.

At 7:30 the 15 children left for the school in Duma, dressed in squeaky clean uniforms, for a one and a half kilometer journey on donkeys, 3 donkeys with 4 children on each donkey. They are unaccompanied by adults. The seven or nine year old boy watches over his brothers and knows how to lead them to their destination. Life must go on and everyone from the age of zero takes responsibility.

The others all immersed themselves in their day's work. The women are taking care of the house, preparing the food and preparing the fodder, the men are in the pasture today or working outside.

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Surprise on Tuesday morning! After a long time when the villagers did not leave the village area and had to feed the sheep with purchased fodder, it was decided to return to their pastures. Accompanied by volunteers who arrived early in the morning, they went out to graze the sheep and drove away with the herds to a distance of three kilometers from the village!

As reported, the first day of the program was successful. Although in the distance we could see a herd of settlers' sheep, they probably did not disturb that day.

You have to keep your fingers crossed and keep coming and helping, because that's the only way the land will be returned to its owner and maybe some measure of justice will appear. Amen - yes, may it be so.