Yesterday morning the Israeli authorities destroyed the homes of six Jahalin Bedouin families on El Jabal. The Jahalin were forcibly removed from their lands near Ma’ale Adumim in 1979 and resettled to a spot some 500 meters from the Jerusalem municipality garbage dump, a place deemed by many environmental organizations to be unfit for human habitation (this is after first becoming refugees from the Negev post-1948). It is in that place that the Israeli Civil Administration entered yesterday to destroy Jahalin homes.
The homes there are largely metal shacks, held together by fragile wooden supports with canvas roofs. The Jahalin there have an existence that depends entirely on the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and thus the Israelis could enter the encampment with but twenty soldiers and four vehicles as retaliation or resistance from the Bedouin has been rendered essentially impossible by Israel’s continued fractioning and forced transformation of Bedouin society. The destruction of the six particular houses had no obvious logic or aim to it, not that the logic of the Occupation would justify such crimes. There are no roads coming through or planned for the area.
There is no resistance, whether armed or otherwise coming from the Jahalin here. The Israeli settlers have no plans to incorporate this unusable land into Ma’ale Adumim or other settlement blocks. The only explanation that seems plausible to us is Israel’s continued demands for total control over all aspects of life in the West Bank. The Jahalin are not able to live on lands they have the titles to as they see fit. Each Bedouin home destroyed makes it harder for them to continue with their traditional lifestyle of animal husbandry. The accompanying photo show the remains of a house and an evicted family with their possessions. While the Israelis continue to solidify the Occupation against the resistance of the Palestinians, the aspirations of many Bedouin were succinctly identified in a 1999 documentary called The Jahalin when one Jahalin Bedouin stated simply, “They should just let us return to the Negev. We would need nothing from them.” Under Israeli rule though, so humble a request is equal to begging the moon.
For information about the Jahalin and resources on how you can help visit: