Palestinian Jordan Valley – filming at Fassail, a visit to En Al Hilwa

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Karin L., Ora Sh. (filming), Rina Tz. (report) )T/H

We came to film a video (Karin’s initiative and camerainfo-icon work) with Ibrahim Abu Omar of Fassail, whose home was demolished by the Civil Administrationinfo-icon on August 8 (details in Daphne’s report from the Jordan Valley on August 9). We set the date with him in advance.

Fassail is a very heterogeneous Palestinian locality in the central Jordan Valley. Parts of it look like a farming village with handsome brick houses. Other parts reveal impoverished, neglected shacks, and among them tent dwellers who make their living herding sheep and goats. THey are the poorest inhabitants and their tents are periodically and systematically demolished by the Israeli army. Ibrahim Abu Omar is one of them.

We found him expecting us on the spot that used to be his home, in a desolate area at the edge of the village, without a bit of shade under the seething sun. In the middle of nowhere several plastic chairs and coffee cups on a stool awaited us. Wearing his traditional garb, with notes prepared, he began to speak, and tell us that it is important for him to serve as a voice for all Fassail inhabitants, and first and foremost the tent dwelling shepherd community, those at the very bottom of the social and economic scale, who have suffered for years now from waves of demolitions of their miserable encampments by the army. He listed every single demolition with its date, and not a single year was missing from this list. He then led us from one pile of debris to another. Even the solar collector plates that have recently been installed were among them.

For the past 20 days, in the August heat which here reaches over 40 degrees centigrade (we were nearly fainting after just one hour in the sun), nine family members have been living without shelter. To the side was a pile of mattresses which are spread out at night in the open. So far, it has not rained yet… In the past, the Palestinian Authority helped by donating tents after every demolition. But the army always comes back and demolishes again. This time the tents have been restored, except for a kitchen tent. It is not clear whether the PA is unwilling to provide tents again just to be demolished, or that the family itself is afraid to put up something that will be demolished right away, and after that will not receive a thing.

On the ground we saw rod that were perhaps meant to raise a shaded area, and which he said were donated by Daphne. But they were lying on the ground.

These people are refugees since 1948. The family originates from En Gedi. They make their living shepherding sheep and goats. What will they do in the future? He does not know either, but obviously they will not leave the place, which is what the Israeli authorities want to achieve. He asked us to distribute the video widely abroad, perhaps some help can be obtained this way.

We then visited a family  at En Al Hilwa. We were told that about a month ago they suffered two incidents with the military security official of Rotem settlement, D. In one of these incidents he killed a cow belonging to A., resident of Al Maleh, and in the other – ran over a sheep belonging to M.C. from Umm Jemal (detailed in Daphne’s reports). Accompanied by activists of Taayush (“living together” – a Jewish-Arab Palestinian-Israeli partnership) they went to the police. According to our Bedouin friends, in response the police disarmed this official of his personal weapon, and he was in custody for three days. In light of our experience with how the police treat Palestinian complaints against settlers, what the Bedouins told us sounded like a daydream…

The entrance to Jawarish village from the main road has been blocked by a pile of rocks for months now. We saw a taxi bypassing it and driving out in the open field. At Migdalim settlement, a new caravan neighborhood has been constructed west of the settlement itself.