Atta Jaber’s resilience is tested yet again
For over thirty years, their entire married life, Atta and Rudina Jaber and their children have known nothing but oppression and cruelty from Israeli authorities and the extreme religious Jewish settlers from nearby Kiryat Arba in Hebron who covet their land. The valley in which Atta and his neighbours live, though arid, produces much of the West Bank’s harvest of grapes and produce. Atta’s small farm has been in the family since Ottoman times, but he has lost almost all of it to the settlement and to the busy highway 60 that connects the Israeli settlements of the southern West Bank to Jerusalem.
Besides losing their land and livelihood, the Jaber family has had its home demolished twice by the Israeli authorities, and Atta has been repeatedly jailed and beaten by the police. In December 2000, dozens of settlers invaded their home, evicted the family, spent a peaceful Sabbath in their home protected by the Israeli army and police, then burned the house on their way out and returned to Kiryat Arba undisturbed. In February 2018, the Israeli army destroyed what was left of Atta’s farm, forbidding him to ever plant again on Israeli “state land.”
The family has been afraid to leave its house empty even to go to a wedding or visit their married children out of fear that as soon as they are gone, settlers will again come to take it over. Indeed, every few months we report on an attack on the family and its home. Now the attacks have reached a lethal level. In the past several weeks, the settlers — trespassing noisily and provocatively through Atta’s property, throwing stones at the house, shouting threats at the family — have begun the illegal construction of structures just above Atta’s property, clearly indicating their intent to extend the settlement over his home and farm.
During a recent harassment by settlers, Atta called the Israeli police who occasionally arrive but always protect the settlers. Watch the video below, filmed by Atta’s daughter on 5th May. You see an angry Atta demanding (in Hebrew) that the police remove the settlers from his property — you see one of the settlers to the right calmly filming the encounter, with no fear of police interference. As dark set in, the police were finally able to persuade the settlers to leave, but not before they threatened to kill Atta. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, two Israeli settlers arrived outside the Jaber home and attempted to set fire to it, which is caught on camera. The setters returned again the night of 6th May and stood outside of the Jaber home and called out to Atta, threatening to kill him. View video here.
Atta Jaber and his family represent every level of resistance to Israeli occupation, though the strain on the family over the years has severely affected their health. Their steadfastness is firm, but now that they have small grandchildren in the home, they are genuinely scared. Still, they struggle on, farming their tiny bit of land, trying to eke out a bare living, confronting the settlers, courageously challenging the police and the army, and speaking out: Atta has even testified before the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Jaber family always extend a warm welcome to visitors who come to show their solidarity (rewarded by a hot plate of Rudina’s makluba).
We at ICAHD have supported the Jaber family (and their neighbours in the valley) over many years, and we have campaigned for them. We need your support at this harrowing time. Go to our website, https://icahd.org, to learn of the Jaber family’s struggle, which we have documented here. Contact us if you want to become involved. It is important that your own political leaders know your concern for the Jaber family and for all Palestinians struggling for their rights.
Atta (who speaks English) is more than willing to appear in zoom conferences you might want to organize, either on his own, with Jeff Halper or with other speakers. Contact us through our website. And share this posting. We must make Atta’s story, symbolic of all Palestinians, known the world over.
View a Recording of Atta and Hisham Sharabati of the Hebron Defense Committee speaking during ICAHD UK Webinar on Wednesday 6 January 2021
On Wednesday, 21 st February 2018, the bulldozers of Israel’s “Civil” Administration (which it calls its military government over 7 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza) destroyed the farm of the Jaber family in the Baka Valley, near Hebron. Normally this would not be a notable event. Every day dozens of actions are taking against Palestinians, from demolishing their homes (52,000 homes and structures demolished in the Occupied Palestine Territory since 1967, the Jabar family’s home itself demolished twice and rebuilt by ICAHD) to uprooting olive orchards and fields to cutting irrigation and destroying wells to detaining children and, virtually every day, shooting a young person who dares to protest.
But Atta’s case is special. He and his family represent every level of resistance to Israeli occupation, from just trying to eke out a living from a tiny farm whose land Israel claims, to having a roof over their heads, to having to defend their home from nearby settlers (who once occupied and burned it), to being beaten and imprisoned by the Israeli army, to testifying before the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Civil Administration claims the Jaber land is “state land,” although the family has lived on it for generations and has an Ottoman period deed. So, on Wednesday, by surprise, the bulldozers arrived, accompanied by soldiers, and destroyed all the crops in the family’s tiny fields, the terracing Atta had painstakingly done stone by stone for years and the cistern he had dug to collect rainwater (which Israeli authorities stated also belongs to the State). One hundred and fifty fruit trees were uprooted, including olives, figs, grapes and almonds, along with grape vines. Atta estimates the damage at $50,000.
Atta is ruined; his family, which barely eked out a living from its small plot of land, is destitute. ICAHD’s Director Jeff Halper asked Atta what he’s going to do now: “Just keep on struggling,” he said.
Tribute to Atta Jaber’s Resilience
On 6th September, ICAHD’s Jeff Halper visited Atta Jaber on his farm in the southern West Bank. It was Atta’s birthday but instead of cake, Jeff was served something much better – maklouba.
Atta showed Jeff around the half acre narrow strip of farmland that runs along the main highway that he is allowed to till. Atta’s farmland with its terraces and established fruit trees located up the hill by his house was bulldozed by the Israeli authorities using JCB bulldozers a few years ago and now Atta is forbidden to farm “Israeli state land” – though he has a deed of ownership that goes back 100 years. In addition, Atta’s olive orchard has been fenced in by the Kiryat Arba settlement, to which he also has no access.
Israeli Bulldozers Target Atta Jaber Family Yet Again
In our September Actions Bulletin, we paid tribute to Atta Jaber, from the West Bank, who has known nothing but oppression and cruelty from the Israeli authorities as well as from extreme religious settlers. Atta’s resilience shines through as does his gentle determination to remain in his home and not be displaced
We were shocked and saddened to receive this news from Jeff Halper who reports on what happened on 25th September 2020.
Settlers Again Target the Atta Jaber Family (13 December 2020)
Extreme religious settlers from Kiryat Arba in Hebron have again been targeting the Atta Jaber family as they intend to make life so difficult for them that they leave their beloved home. On the evening of 13th December settlers arrived outside the front door and called for the family to leave because their home is going to be demolished to make way for a new Israeli settlement. Atta feared that this time the settlers would throw explosives because they have been used against other Palestinians that settlers seek to displace. Atta phoned the Israeli army begging it come to protect his family and this time the army arrived and escorted the settlers away.
The same day, settlers put up a one-room structure near to Atta’s home where it is intended that the new settlement of Nofei Hevron – View of Hebron – is established. As soon as they left, it was pushed over by the Jabers in an act of defiance. In a previous attempt a few years ago, settlers arrived and laid the foundation for the first home of this settlement. Both ICAHD’s Jeff Halper and Rabbi Arik Ascherman rushed to the site and pushed down the stones that had been laid and then they trampled through the wet concrete. Read more »