A large fire in the Jordan Valley, Hadidiya: settlers extinguished it on their side by spraying water and Palestinians with wet shirts

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Rachel A (reporting and photos), Lilly (daughter of Miriam Shaish), escorting shepherds (photos) Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

The original objective of this trip was to help Hadidja with various tasks outdoors and in the house as we had coordinated with her.

We arrived at the hour we had arranged but Hadidja wrote that there was no work and she had gone out to herd the flocks.  We left them food and clothing and continued on to visit families spontaneously.  Mahmmud, Hadidja's husband was due to return from prison (for writing an obviously harmless post) in 10 days and there was already much preparation and excitement.

It was a pleasant day.  The valley was in its summer colors of brown, yellow, and gold, partly harvested. It was early harvest and there were bundles of hay in the fields. 

Our first stop was in Hadidiyah.  We unloaded packages of clothing and surprised the women after almost three years of not going there.  The women were happy to see us and the children surrounded us.  They prepared a wonderful breakfast with Hadidja the grandmother, her three sons, and their wives and children.  T., one of the sons, was arrested by the army three months ago and was jailed for six months without a trial or known reason, announcement, or ability to contact anyone.  They know what prison he is in because someone who was released sent regards, but  Hadidja is extremely distressed and sick with worry, and she has become a shadow of her once robust self.  T. is the strongest man of the family, and the army knows who to suppress.

Two days ago there was a large fire on the hill between Hadidyah and the nearby out pose of Ro’i. The Israelis put out the fire on their side with a fire truck, while the Palestinians had to make do with putting out the fire with wet shirts.  There was no collaboration between the two groups.

We continued to Hammam al Maleh to see how things were going in the school and kindergarten.  A group from Jerusalem had arrived for a visit, and the children had already gone home.  The staff were pleased to show us the kindergarten.  Unfortunately only a few children attend because there is no budget to transport them.

In Hammam al Maleh we met Ibrahim who helped us establish the kindergarten.  He worked in agriculture in Israel until October 7th.  We held an informative conversation about what Palestinians think about  the repercussions of October 7th and all the difficult questions that arise.   If things depended on us we would be sitting together in peace very soon.

All the Palestinians that I meet don’t believe the stories about rape and don’t believe it happened.    Any questions about the cruelty of Hamas are met with “What about before October 7th?  Who was cruel then?”   And what will be after Israel does not survive?  Will you accept us in your country?   And so on. We used our imagination and laughed.  IT’s the only way to get out of this catastrophe.


On our way north we saw a lot of Palestinians cars in one of the communities.  Someone who lives nearby thought it might be visiting foreign diplomats.

We continued on to Makhul.  People told us about a fire that broke out on the mountain near Umm Zuka two days ago.  Evidently the local Palestinians were blamed for setting the fire.  Soldiers appeared in Makhul at 11:00 at night.   “A huge Druze soldier stood in front of me.  He slapped me and asked me where Yussuf was.  He pulled me by the ear until we reached Yussef’s house.  Then he took out a sharp knife from inside his shirt and threatened that if I didn’t … he would…  He threatened both of them and drew the knife closer to their throats.   Then they left.  One was the spokesman, the other had a weapon and the third was the driver of the jeep.       

Rina and the children continued to sleep and did not hear Ashraf’s story and were not distressed by it. 

This is one of the days that releases the tension that is in the air.  It reminds us that there are people here like us who want to be free like us and live like us and have rights as we do.