Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Threats of demolitions; These are real people

From the NY Times:
The Israeli government has asked its Supreme Court to allow the demolition of eight Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills so the area can be used for military training.
Amira Hass at Haaretz clarifies the villages that are slated to be demolished:
The villages slated for demolition are the larger villages in the region: Majaz, Tabban, Sfai, Fakheit, Halaweh, Mirkez, Jinba, and Kharuba, which have a total of 1,500 residents. The villages to be spared are Tuba, Mufaqara, Sarura and Megheir al-Abeid, which have a total of 300 residents.

The southernmost villages on this map are the villages that are threatened with demolition.  The army currently operates a firing zone in this southern region of the West Bank. There are signs that warn residents to not cross certain expanses of the territory; however, is appears the Israeli defense minister needs more land to train his troops.

All demolitions and cruel, and enraging, but these newly-requested demolitions are especially painful for me because I know these places and I know the people.  I'll include some information about these villages to hopefully humanize the residents.
  • Fakheit - In April 2009, Fakheit school opened to accomodate students living in Maghayir Al-Abeed, Markaz, Halawe, Fakheit, Majaaz, and Jinba. Previously, children from these villages attended school in Yatta, which required them to live in the city during the school week. Now the teachers at Al-Fakheit school travel from Yatta each day and pick up schoolchildren along the route.  The school has grown significantly in the last several years, from three tents in Fakheit, to numerous cinder block structures in both Fakheit and Jinba. The growth in the number of students suggests that more families with children are able to live permanently at their homes in the south hebron hills because their children can attend primary school there.  
  • Majaz - Many of the kids that attend the Fakheit school are from Majaz. I'd often ride in the pick-up that transports the school kids from their villages to Fakheit school.  All the kids would be waiting outside their houses, donning their blue, UN-provided backpacks, grinning from ear-to-ear and jumping with excitement as the pick-up approached. They absolutely loved going to school.   
  • Halaweh - Halaweh is also the name of a popular Palestinian (maybe Arab) desert.  When I was at the school I'd chat with the kids, asking them their names and where they were from.  When kids answered, "Halaweh," I'd always make a remark about how I loved Halaweh and it was nice to know it was made in their village. That would usually get the kids laughing while they explained to me that Halaweh wasn't made in their village, it just happened to be the same name. I'd play dumb every time and thank them for informing me about the coincidence of names.  
I could write more about Jinba and Kharuba and the other villages that are slated for demolition.  The point is that there are real people living in these villages.  The title of the NY Times article says that the Israeli army is looking to use this "West Bank area," but that's misleading, Israel is looking to use the land on which these Palestinians live, it's seeking to erase Palestinian villages and Palestinian people from the landscape.

This can't be allowed to happen.  

Kids at Fakheit school


1 comment:

Catherine said...

I was in the area of the proposed demolitions yesterday, at At Tuwani and Susya. Unbelievable that humans would treat other humans this way. Thanks for speaking up.

Catherine Cavanagh
Www.soulsider.blogspot.com