To our dear friends,
Between our weekly visits to South Mt. Hebron things happen, things that happen during a week, quite ordinary things.
People wake up in the morning to a new day – they wash, pray, eat, discover that settlers cut down 62 trees in their olive grove, as a “price tag” action; or they go to sleep and wake up to the violent presence of 20 soldiers and one policeman in their living room, a visit that was not pre-coordinated with and approved by the house owners; or they go to shepherd their goats, get detained for two days and released with a court summon, after paying bail they will never get back.
These and other are the happenings between one weekly visit to the next, in an ordinary week, one among many in which a daily routine like this takes place. Mere footnotes, maybe similar in their importance, as Ophir says, to getting a parking ticket in Tel Aviv. Even Gideon Levi will not write about it in his newspaper column.
And so, 20 years old Ammar and Odeh, and 16 years old Akram, from Umm al-Kheir, who went out with the goats in the morning of the 1st of June 2013, as they do each Saturday, to the grazing areas close to their home, and were detained – they too will surely fold their pain, store it in the storeroom for unprocessed pains, and continue their life, their daily routine, as if such a pain is an ordinary matter, like breakfast, like brushing your teeth or going to the toilette.
We, on the other hand, when we came to visit 3 days after they returned from their detention – chose to talk with them, in order not to let it happen.
Ammar told: “We were with the goats not far away from a place where a metal railing was built; Police came, they handcuffed us; we asked why, they said we stole iron. When they handcuffed us and answered our question, they also beat us.
I kept quiet. I was afraid that if I open my mouth they would beat me more. Akram said the same.
They took us to the police station in Kiryat Arba [the biggest settlement near Hebron]. Three hours they left us without water, and 13 hours without food. From 9 o’clock in the morning, when they detained us, until 10 o’clock at night when they moved us from Kiryat Arba to Gush Etzion (cluster of settlements near Bethlehem). In Kiryat Arba they handed me a document and told me to sign it.
The document was in Hebrew and I asked what is says. For this they beat me again. Still, I did not sign.
We slept in the detention station in Gush Etzion with other detainees.
In the morning they transferred Akram, who is considered a minor, to Ofer detention facility.
We slept another night in Gush Etzion. In the morning, Khalil [Amar's cousin, Oda and Akram's brother] came with a car and 4,500 NIS bail (1,500 NIS for each of us).
At that time, Aziz picked up his brother Akram from Ofer camp.
In September each of us will have a trial.
Before they confiscated our mobile phones, Odeh managed to call home and notify that we are detained.”
From that moment on, efforts to release them took place: the family called Buma Inbar (Israeli humanitarian activist) and Rabbis for Human Rights, and Avital, RHR’s lawyer, managed to release them on bail until the trial.
I asked Amar and Akram how they feel now, after 3 days at home:
Amar was angry for being beaten up without a reason and for being left without food. But that is already over. Now he is angry about the 1,500 NIS and about the trial. But the hardest thing for him is that they took away for 3 years the special permit that allowed him to work in settlements. His father is paralyzed; his eldest brother is in jail, so in recent time, by working in a settlement’s supermarket, Ammar was the main provider for his mother, father and ten brothers and sisters.
Akram said that he remains angry about everything and scared too.
Akram missed an end-of-year exam that was held in his school on Sunday, when he was detained.
The headmaster allowed him to skip it because Akram is an exceptionally good pupil.
When we left them, to continue our day, we thanked them for sharing their story with us. They thanked us so much for wanting to see them and to hear their story – the story of what happened, and its emotional soundtrack.
As we distanced from them I knew we allowed their pain to be conveyed, to be contained – by us and maybe also by them – and in this way to air a bit the storerooms of pains that do not get attention and might turn into stiff and violent rage, damaging to its possessor and to the entire surroundings.
On grounds of protecting the reader, I do not continue and describe our visit in Salem, the following day; I am leaving it to my next letter.
Yours, Erella (in the name of my friends in the Villages Group)