I get tired of coming up with adjectives and superlatives to describe the emotions I feel or to describe the degree of injustice or humanity that I see. This time, I'm not going to try. I hope you filed the void by uttering some superlatives or expletives as you were watching the above video.
On Wednesday, we got a call at 7:20 in the morning that the Amniyr demolitions were taking place. No one in at-Tuwani, where our house is located, has a proper permit to drive on the settler road that connects at-Tuwani and Amniyr. I called folks in Susiya, adjacent to Amniyr, to see if they could come and pick us up, but they said the whole area was a 'closed military zone' and the IDF wouldn't permit them to leave. After moments of thinking we wouldn't be able to get there in time, I happened upon a group of ISM activists, who kindly shared their taxi. As the video shows, we got there right as the bulldozers were being driven off and the military jeeps were leaving the scene.
The woman who can be seen holding the olive branch in the video was crying for the majority of 2+ hours I was there. At one point she was looking over the well, asking God why the soldiers would destroy her source of water (it was destroyed by filling it to the brim with dirt). She lamented that the well might run dry forever. Through her tears of despair, the Palestinians gathered around her were offering words of support, "walla ihimmak ya hajji, ma bitsiir fadi, il bier bitsiir bi dalu, bitsiir bi dalu, inshallah," -- don't worry ma'am, this well won't run dry, it will soon be filling buckets, this well will overflow your cup (roughly translated).
Most of the families' belongings were smashed underneath piles of dirt and building supplies. The residents of Amniyr tried to find glasses that had survived the demolitions in order to serve us tea.
I spoke with Moath Jaboor, a resident of Amniyr, who is in his final year of high school and hoping to score well on the tawjihi (the SAT, more or less -- good scores are necessary for university admittance) in order to study journalism. Moath served the visitors tea, comforted his distraught mother, and provided me with important documentation and information regarding the history of the Amniyr residents. Moath joked that he at least got a day off from school today, because of the demolitions. He paused and then reflected that it's better when all the students get a day-off, instead of him taking a personal day-off because of the demolition of his village.
I spoke with Maan News shortly after the incident who then reported on the demolitions. The CPT press release is here in full:
22 February 2011 - At 5 AM this morning the Israeli army, accompanied by members of the Israeli District Coordinating Office, arrived at the village of Amniyr and demolished five tent-houses, two cisterns and the village's olive trees. The demolitions effectively destroyed the entire village and left its three families homeless. All that remained unharmed after the military left was a cave and a small taboun oven.
According to villagers, the military had been coming frequently for the past several months and delivering demolition orders and maps claiming that the village was on Israeli state land, and that their homes would be demolished unless everyone left.
Residents of Amniyr told CPT that they have suffered from years of settler and army harrassment. Years ago, members of the Jaboor family lived in the cave in Amniyr, but Israeli military and settler harassment forced them to move to a different area a few kilometers away. The harrassment continued in their new location, however, convincing the family to move back to tents close to their original cave just over a year ago.
What was once a small village is now a pile of dirt mounds, uprooted olive trees and shattered clocks and dishware.
"Where are we supposed to sleep tonight?" said Moath Jaboor, who lived in a tent with his mother. "We'll have to rebuild our homes so that we can sleep."
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.