Jordan Valley - in Khalet Makhul, a fun women's conversation

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Daphne Banai (report and photos), Tal Haran (Translating)

Humsa – I visited the encampment of Kharbi, Said and Walid and their wives Laila, Falastin and Yusra, and their children. The men were busy re-building 3 water-proof tents. One for every family. Until now they have all lived in one tent. But now attorney Tawfiq Jabarin has applied for a construction permit, and as long as it is being reviewed, (not that it will be approved, although they have the documents proving that this is privately-owned Palestinian land which they lease for its owners – but Palestinian have not received construction permits in Area C ever since 1967) – the State of Israel is not supposed to demolish (although at times it does anyway so that the Palestinians don’t begin to feel too good, and then comes and apologizes to people who have remained homeless in the mad heat or in the midst of rains).

I brought the little children 2 ‘bimbas’. One of them, 2-years-old, got on a bimba and sped like crazy on the rocky earth. He fell and rose, fell and rose and continued speeding. The second, a bit younger, looked at him but didn’t dare. He very slowly walked and led the bimba, but when one of the older children got near, he screamed. Finally, he walked away and hid his bimba in his parents’ tent.

A problem has arisen. After the demolitions, we brought many things to Humsa that were very much needed at the time, as they were left with nothing. The villagers have become dependent on us, and ever since, they do not cease to ask us to bring them things. The peak was one of them sent me an internet photo on Whatsapp of the ‘Black Friday’ sale of a ski jacket that he wishes me to buy for him…

On my way back I got stuck in the mud that was formed because of the rain that fell two weeks ago. I barely managed to get out of there. Apparently, after more rain, I won’t be able to get there again.At noon, Amir Pinsky, his brother Boaz, Oded Paporish, Hagar Gefen (who couldn’t make it, to Najia’s disappointment) and I were invited for lunch at Najia’s and Yosef’s in Khalet Makhul. The meal was offered in gratitude to all the activists who helped her and stood beside her when she was arrested about a month ago. Najia is an amazing chef – she made us Sabanah (a stunning pastry baked in the earthen oven and filled with vegetables), and wonderful Maklouba. This time, to our delight, the entire family ate with us. I had yet to visit them since birth, and so now I came to congratulate them and share their joy.

I stopped to see Rima in the middle encampment of Khalet Makhul, and since we were alone (except for the children), we had a very pleasant women’s conversation.

Near Hamra Checkpoint live old Z., his wife, his son, daughter-in-law and two older daughters with special needs. Nearly the entire plot of land where his house is situated is registered in his name, which did not deter the state from demolishing again and again. His original one-room home was built prior to 1967 and the Israeli army has no excuse to demolish it. But every room, shack, tent or caravan that he wished to add has been immediately demolished by the occupiers. He has 8 sons, and they have all left because they could not stand the ever-repeated demolitions. Only M. is left, has married, and has 3 daughters, and 2 months ago, had a son. I had yet to visit them since birth, and so now I came to congratulate them and share their joy.

On the way, I saw his son M., wife and girls, at the entrance to a huge new greenhouse. M. told me he erected it 3 months ago.

In pipes hanging in the air with tuff, he grows strawberries. This is the second round now. In September all his young plants died because of the extreme heat. He didn’t give up and planted again. Except for the strawberries, he grows (in the ground) peas, lima beans, radishes, garlic, dill, parsley and surely some other things I have forgotten. When I asked him whether he was not afraid they would come and destroy everything, he answered: “Daphne, this is our life: Everything I do is forbidden! Of course I’m afraid, but if I stop doing it, I’ll stop living!”