Posted on 28th July 2012, by & filed under ICAHD Staff, Israeli Solidarity, Peace Movement, Rebuilding Camp.


On 12th April over 40 Israeli activists from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv arrived in a West Bank village for a day of solidarity and work with Palestinians. Two homes destroyed by the Israeli government were in process of being rebuilt by ICAHD’s Constructing Peace Campaign as part of the organization’s resistance and civil disobedience activities. Also sponsoring the event were Bat Shalom and the Tel Aviv University Student Coalition whose members participated in the event.

 

After an orientation session the volunteers were divided into two groups who were dispatched to the building sites where they mixed cement, carried building blocks, plastered walls, and laid floor tile. The entire operation was supervised by Palestinian tradesmen. In addition to the construction work, there was ample opportunity to socialize with the villagers and their children, especially during the lunch break when everyone sat down together for some delicious local food.

 

The village is situated in the hills on the western edge of the central West Bank, North of Ramallah, east of the settlement of Modi’in Illit. It is a pastoral setting surrounded by rolling hills, olive groves, and patches of family vegetable gardens. On a clear day the Mediterranean coast is clearly visible, punctuated by the towers of Tel Aviv and other Israeli highways, industrial areas and towns. However all of this if forbidden to the villagers who are restricted by the nearby Separation Barrier, and the myriad restrictions imposed by the Occupation Authorities. The core of the village is Area ‘B’, under Palestinian civil control. However immediately outside the old village lies Area ‘C’, under full Israeli control. No building permits are issued in Area ‘C’ despite the growth of the village. The homes rebuilt by the activists are in Area ‘C’.

 

The villagers are mostly farmers, construction workers, a few businessmen, and a handful of professionals. Many of them travel to Ramallah for work, and some work in the settlements. Even the village schoolteachers work in the settlements during the summer as laborers in order to supplement their salaries.

 

The village was also the site of an infamous massacre by Israel’s 101 Brigade in 1953. The attack on civilians, which killed dozens of people, was led by Ariel Sharon who subsequently became a prime Minister of Israel.

 

 

The Families

names have been changed for the families’ protection

Family ‘A’

Mr. A built his home in 2006, adjacent to his parent’s home on the family land. In 2007 the Civil Administration issued a demolition order and told the family that unless they destroyed the house themselves, then the authorities would demolish all the homes in the neighborhood. There was no reason to disbelieve the threat, so together with friends and relatives, Mr. A dismantled the home over the course of a week, saving what he could from the construction materials. This rendered the family homeless and they once again had to move in with Mr. A’s parents.

Despite their modest background, this is an educated family. Mr. A is the headmaster of a high school. His sister is a nurse and one of his brothers works for the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. These are exactly the people whose careers need to be fostered and supported if the Palestinian people are to have any chance of self-reliance. However the Occupation is relentless, and its bureaucratic mechanisms do not discriminate between people. Peasant or businessman; laborer or schoolteacher; the repressive Israeli regime treats everyone the same.

Mr. A maintains a beautiful garden and greenhouse full of vegetables, fruit trees, grape vines, and flowers. His entire extended family is fed from these efforts. The garden is organic, using traditional met
hods, and seasonal plantings ensures a plentiful supply of produce throughout the year. Selected mature plants are always allowed to go to seed after each harvest, thus ensuring the next crop.

 

Family ‘B’

In 1986 the B family applied for a building permit on village land that the family had owned for generations. Despite giving provisional approval for the new home, the Israeli ‘Civil Administration’ denied the permit. Mr. B went ahead and built their home and lived in it for several years with his wife and ten children. In 1995, while Mr. B was in hospital and his family were visiting him, the Israeli army descended on the village, declared a curfew, and demolished the home. The family lived for one year in a tent, and then in two rooms provided by Mr. B’s brother. The family belongs to one of five Hamulas (family clans) in the village.

Mr. B is a gaunt man, his body racked by illness. The Palestinian Health Ministry has declared him a 95% invalid and the family receives aid from the ministry and an international agency.

Mrs. B commented’ “ What they are doing is a horrible thing in any religion in the world. To do this to a disabled person is a crime. “


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