Beit Ummar – a visit to Musa Abu Maria

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Leah Sh, Translator: Natanya

1. 09:00: To the east of the road south of the settlement Avigail, a military vehicle and soldiers are seen guarding new water pipes, coming down from Avigail, perhaps pumping from the spring that the settlers took over.

2Lev Yehuda road: between Shuyukh and the Route 35 intersection, a sign dedicating the road to the memory of Moshe Levinger.

3To the north of the highway 35 intersection, curves block access to the road from the east, near abandoned guard posts, near Metzad Yehuda (a site from the First Temple period that the settlers tried to take over in the past).

4From the Se’ir intersection and to the north, the expansion works of the road that will become the "Lev Yehuda Road" can be seen. Later, the road will bypass Beit Ummar from the east, passing between Beit Ummar and El Arruv. El Arruv in area A, in front of the grocery stores - Pillbox.

5 Beit Ummar: A visit to Musa Abu Maria, in the offices of the association he founded (2008) and directs, Center for Freedom and Justice. In the office Bisan (Beit Shan, she also has a sister named Carmel, named after places in Palestine!), manages projects for the development and empowerment of women and youth. And also an engineer named Hamidan Abu Maria. The association employs 14 paid employees and there are also 6 volunteer engineers.

Examples of projects:

A market for women's agricultural products, cheeses, jams, etc., for local and off-site sale.

Construction of a kindergarten.

Development of a community park in an area of 8,000 square meters, with a pool, theatre, cafe, the goal is also environmental studies, utilization of solar energy.

Together with the MachsomWatch , the development of an agricultural plot.

6. This is an agricultural town, about 20,000 inhabitants, in an area of about 30,000 dunams, famous for its apples and grapes, produces organic jams. The El Arruv refugee camp (area A) sits on the land of Beit Ummar, its name means - a valley between two mountains, it is colder there. At a time when there was no high school there, they came to study at Beit Ummar.

Beit Ummar was once a Christian village, it is not known when they converted to Islam. The name Abu Maria is probably a remnant from the Christian era.

Of course, the surrounding settlements have everything, but Beit Ummar lacks many services. There is no pool, no music, art or drama studies, young people should be encouraged to open up to the possibility of a normal life, to cultivate hope.

7. Musa was married to an American Jewess and has a daughter with her, both in the USA. He also lives in France and has a son there from another woman. Today he is married to a Palestinian woman. He spent two years in Ketziot prison, administrative detention, it is not clear what he was accused of. Attorney Gabi Lasky acted for his release. He shows me videos of protest demonstrations on the matter. He is dedicated to education for non-violent resistance to the occupation, believes in working together with Israelis towards peace, for example with the Roots / Judur project at the Gush Etzion junction, and any other Israeli organization, does not put his hopes in governments... Prefers to deal with the economy, livelihood, sustainability, independence economically, and not by occupation.

8. Last night, they arrested 11 young people, closed the gate through which they go to the center or to the school, followed them with photographs, claimed that they threw stones, their parents will have to release them on bail. Not a particularly dramatic event, really routine.