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.
For further details of our campaign highlighting Atta's resilience and how the Jaber 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 please follow this link.