21/7/10 - 3/8/10 104 °F
7/27 Day 7. Gone
At 5:30 a.m. today, the Bedouin village of Al Arakib in the Negev was destroyed.
1500 armed police with a full complement of helicopters and bulldozers, water cannons and dogs totally demolished the village of 500 people. Every house, every tent, every chicken coop, every animal pen, every storehouse, every tool shed, every solar panel, every water cistern, every olive tree.
Everything standing was crushed.
Every Bedouin home is gone.
Two days after we sat with them in their homes, after they gave us tea and fruit and cake and let me hold their new baby. After they looked us in the eye and asked us to help them, it’s all gone.
They lost their homes because they are not Jews, and the state of Israel wants the land for Jews even though none will come to live on it.
The police were accompanied by Israeli high school students who removed furniture and personal goods from the houses, slashed photos, and sat on the sofas outside, cheering the bulldozers.
150 Israeli dissenters came in time to witness. Five were arrested. BBC and Aljazeera filmed.
The Bedouin people began rebuilding before the last bulldozer left.
DEMOLITION PHOTOS ARE NOT MY OWN - CAPTURED FROM THE WEB AFTER MY RETURN
http://www.google.ps/search?q=bedouin+village+demolished&hl=en&prmd=n&source=lnt&tbs=rltm:1&sa=X&ei=7fxOTMiiKYLk4gbX5Pn1Bw&ved=0CAcQpwU search term Bedouin village demolished. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10777040
from http://www.voltairenet.org/article166588.html and other sources
Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard.
A number of villagers including Abu Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain site of the owners. Finally, according to Abu Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.
“What we learned from the summer camp of destruction,” Abu Madyam remarked, “is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.”
These are the people we sat with. In Hebron now, at CPT apartment in the Old City, with 3 Israeli settlements within stone throwing distance. Right next door is the roof where the old woman (and many others) climbs out of her house to the rooftop and down a series of ladders in order to get out of her house after Israel welded shut the doors of all the houses and shops on Shuhada street so only Jews and internationals could use it, but never any Palestinians. Google the "dancing soldiers Hebron" to get to Bet T'selem's site, with the link to the old woman climbing out of her house.
We received the news of the village while we were at the Tent of Nations high up on a hill outside Bethlehem. Israel wants the hill for settlements and have issued a demolition order for the entire place, whose owners have proven in court their ownership for the past 150 years. They have no water service, though all the settlements around have water, they cannot dig a well, they cannot collect water in a cistern.
The only thing they can do legally is leave or die.
Going to eat with these great CPT people. Street patrol tomorrow. Sorry I can't write more. Hardest day yet, with such awful news. We're all pretty wiped.
I wish I hadn’t committed to writing a daily narrative. This shit piles up so fucking fast I can’t keep up with it.
This is so sick I hardly have the heart to send it to my group.
Israel has razed the Bedouin village of Al Arakib for the 4th time in a month, determined to remove them to a "town" (reservation), away from where they've lived for so long.
The only reason they are being removed is that THEY ARE NOT JEWISH. How can you fight anti-Jewish racism when this stuff is being done by Jews, for Jews, in the name of all Jews, and only a few Jews - relatively speaking - speak against it? Yet I hear no hatred expressed toward Jews - only toward their acts. very different from what we've heard from some Israelis, and from the settler family yesterday.
Damn, what a lot to process.
LATER NOTE: As of August 17, 2010, this village has been demolished four times in a month. FOUR times. Every time the army leaves, the people, with the help of Israeli and international activists, rebuilds. Every time they rebuild, the army comes and demolishes everything. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.
The official motto of the Israeli Army is "The Most Moral Army in the World". Enough said.
7/27 Still Day 7 Holy Land Trust, Tent of Nations and Hebron
Later, about Tent of Nations, where we were when we received the news about Al Arakib:
TENT OF NATIONS
Just outside Bethlehem, high on a hill, is the Tent of Nations, an organization that teaches non-violent resistance to Palestinian and Israeli students. Surrounded all around by militant Jewish settlements, it is, itself, under a long standing demolition order. It was once a large farm belonging to the Nassar family, but they have lost almost all their olive trees (their main source of income) to raids by the settlers. Owner Daoud Nassar now uses his farm to welcome people from all over the world.
In Hebron now. The CPT apartment is in the old city, literally, a stone's throw away from 3 separate settlements in the middle of the town. Have seen Shuhada street, and even the rooftop and the ladder the old woman uses to get out of her house in that disturbing video.
Hebron is the world’s most ancient continuously occupied (in the human not military sense) unwalled city in the world. It contains the graves of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rachel, Jacob and Leah in the Al-Ibrihimi Mosque (nasty story there, but later...) and is shared 65/35% with the settlers (want to guess what the percentage share of each is?) It is truly old - much of it is over 1200 years old and quite lovely. Not showy like the Haj Sophia, but just lovely.
Hebron - the town hit hardest by the occupation outside Gaza (remember that Gaza is only “not occupied” by soldiers, but it's still totally controlled), and I think the only town other than Jerusalem that has settlers sitting in the middle of it. 180,000 Palestinians live here, with 800 Israeli Jewish settlers now in their midst. 3000 soldiers guard those settlers. It’s a ancient city, prized by both Muslims and Jews for historical and religious reasons, and by the population itself because it is their home.
A moment about Jewish presence in Hebron. The city was primarily Palestinian for hundreds of years, though a small Jewish community has also lived there for those many years. During the Arab Revolt in 1929, 67 Jews were killed and Jewish homes and synagogues were ransacked. Nineteen Arab families saved 435 Jews by hiding them in their houses even under their own life risk, though I challenge you to find reference to the second fact in any of the Zionist literature about the city.
The attack did not happen in a vacuum. It was a tumultuous time and there was plenty of “blame” to be shared among the British authorities, the Jewish community, and the Arab community, but, I will leave it to you to gather that information yourself.
Almost all Jews were evacuated by British authorities and for the most part were absent from Hebron until 1968, when the trickle of Settlers began. Hebron today is a divided city, and 4 Jewish settlements now surround the Old City, a Palestinian area. Since 1997 it has been divided into two areas: H1 and H2. H1 covers 20% of the city and the Palestinian Authority has limited autonomy. H2 is under the control of the Israeli Army. Farmers in the area no longer have access to what was once the primary market area, in the Old City, where we are staying.
Tensions were stretched to the breaking point in 1995 after the physician Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli settler who lived in Kiryat Arba, one of the most ideological of the settlements in Palestine, walked heavily armed into the Al-Ibrahimi mosque during prayer, tossed his hand grenade and sprayed his assault rifle into the crowd. 29 people died, more than 125 injured, before he was overwhelmed by survivors, who beat him to death.
This primarily Palestinian city (90%) was carved up differently than the rest of the West Bank because of the importance of the City to the Jewish religion as well as Muslim. Instead of Areas A, B and C, Hebron is H1 (Palestinian Authority) and H2, (Israeli Authority). The Israeli section includes the heart of the city (Old City) where the Palestinian markets thrived before being strangled by this division. it is Hebron's true city centre where the industrial and commercial zones, as well as the most important landmarks, are located.Settlers have moved into the middle of the Palestinian community in the Old City and are expanding quickly and brutally. Today there are 180,000 Palestinians, 800-1000 Settlers and 3000 Soldiers to protect the Settlers. Jewish settlers, who make up less than 1% of the population of Hebron, control 20% of the city, which is not only incredibly disproportionate but also illegal.
This troubled history continues to feed anger and sorrow in this ancient town.
SHUHADA STREET: from OpenShuhadaStreet.org: Shuhada Street was initially closed to Palestinian shops and vehicular traffic in 1994 after the Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 and injured 150 Palestinians when he opened fire in the Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs) during prayers. The army cited fear of Palestinian revenge attacks as its rationale for closing the street. This main artery of the street and the former sight of the market place was reopened to traffic (but not commerce) in 1997 in accordance with the Hebron Protocol. In 2000, Shuhada Street was closed completely to traffic and partially to pedestrians.
Again, from OpenshuhadaStreet.org: What are activists doing on the ground?
Israeli, Palestinian and international organizations are actively involved in improving the situation of Palestinian human rights in the city. These organizations are increasingly working in coordination with one another.
B’Tselem documents human rights abuses in the city, primarily through its Camera Distribution Project, in which Palestinian families in H2 use video cameras to record attacks on them and their property. The project is cultivating a network of families who have more resources to protect their rights, as well as materials that can be used to prosecute rights violations in the legal system.
The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee engages in legal work, the preservation and restoration of infrastructure, and community development.
Breaking the Silence conducts educational tours of Hebron, raising awareness in Israeli society and internationally about human rights violations in the city.
Children of Abraham engages in joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural work and protests, and coordinates solidarity visits to support the Palestinian families of H2.
The Tel Rumeida Popular Committee is developing a community and media center in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of H2. It has begun to broadcast HEB2 TV as an opportunity for Palestinian residents to document and express the realities of their daily lives.
Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel engage in legal work in Hebron, including bringing cases to the Israeli Supreme Court to challenge military and political policies and prosecute Israeli violators of Palestinian civil and human rights.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel offers persistent international presence as a deterrence to human rights violations in Hebron. (my note – this is primarily CPT)