How Was the Grain Harvest this Year?

May 18, 2023

To our dear friends,

The words I have been lately trying to extricate from the pool of words that serves me to faithfully represent my experiences, fail to offer even a not-faithful account of the experiences that are forming and piling up in my heart and soul, during my visits in the South Hebron Hills and in between these visits. The gap between the verbal representation and the real-life experiences grows and grows, to the extent that it seems to me that the right words have just not been invented for such sophisticated meanness in its faded camouflage colors, drooling murky, stinking slime of evil intent. 

In my last visit in the South Hebron Hills two days ago, no blood was shed. (Sometimes there is blood.) There was only a grove, where Shehada from Mughayar al-Abid tended to his olive trees, putting all his heart and sweat into it; and the settlers’ hands sent their flocks into the grove, to fill their bellies – leaving bare trees that would no longer be able to bear fruit this year. And soldiers’ hands reached out to the grove of Jaber, from Khalat al-Dab’a, breaking the fence around the grove, cutting down its trees and beating up the owner. 

At the end of this day, we reached Yusuf, of Tha’ala. We had not visited him for quite a while. Yusuf welcomed us with unmistakable warmth. My pathetic innocence gave in to the joy of meeting and my soul that insists on good wishes clung to ordinary farmers’ curiosity at the end of the rainy season. I asked him: “how was the grain harvest this year?” “There was no harvest,” Yusuf replied with a sad smile, part embarrassed, part apologetic. In a moment, I hit reality’s ground. The settlers from “Manne farm”* sent their flocks to feed on the poor man’s field. Not a single stalk of grain was left. “It’s a field that is near the village,” Yusuf added. The field lay exposed beneath us, robbed and ashamed. There was no blood today. Just bare fields silently bleeding their tale into mother earth. Since I cannot find words, I can only tell this little story – stirring the quiet transfer.


(On behalf of the Villages Group)

* For photos from this farm which also markets itself as a holiday resort check:

Please Help Harum Continue Living in his Beloved Home in Khirbet al-Rakiz

Greetings to all those caring and inquiring about Harun Abu Aram,

It has been nearly two years since Harun was shot in the neck by an Israeli soldier near his home at Khirbet al-Rakiz, in the South Hebron Hills, a shot that paralyzed him in all parts of his body except his head. It has been just over a year since Harun got back to his family after five months of hospitalization in Hebron, and five months in a rehabilitation hospital in Israel during which he learned to breathe independently. The treatment in the Israeli hospital as well as the treatment of Harun since he is back with his family have been made possible thanks to donations of hundreds of people, most of them from Israel. At this point, the money we managed to collect for Harun in the fundraising we held shortly after he got back home – is about to end. Until now no institutional body in Israel, in the Palestinian Authority or in the world has taken upon itself to support Harun. Hence, we find ourselves obliged to turn to you once again and ask for donations, to provide the necessary financial support for Harun and his family. 

What has happened with Harun in the year since he got back from the rehabilitation hospital, and what is his condition at the moment? Things have developed in a different course than the one that had seemed a course that would  lead to further improvements in Harun’s condition. We had hoped that Harun would live in Yatta, in an urban setting, in a home adapted to his needs, near doctors and the municipal hospital, and that he would be cared for by private nurses. It turned out that Harun does not find sense in living unless he can spend as much time as possible in the family cave at the tiny cave village of Khirbet al-Rakiz, under conditions that are very different from those required by his medical condition. Also, Harun did not manage to get used to the medical care offered by professional nurses that were hired, and asked to be cared for by his family members only. The family indeed undertook this mission upon itself. His mother and his 17-year-old sister devotedly take care of him night and day; his 18-year-old brother, his 6-year-old sister and his father provide him with a contained and supportive environment. Still, for the past six months his condition has worsened significantly. His bed sores have become much worse. They began to appear in the first period after his wounding, when he was hospitalized in the ICU in Hebron, and all attempts to cure them, both during his hospitalization in the Israeli rehabilitation hospital and after his return home – have failed. Consequently, doctors in Yatta had to amputate one of his legs below the knee. They speak of needing to amputate his other leg as well, but Harun refuses after suffering the first amputation. At the same time, the condition of the bed sore in his lower back is now much worse and endangers his life. In this state, Harun’s only wish now is to continue living outside the city and away from hospitals, with his family at their home in Khirbet al-Rakiz. 

We, who have been accompanying Harun and his family ever since he was wounded and even before then, respect his wishes. In his present condition, financial support of 5,500 NIS a month is still needed. Harun’s father does not get a work permit in Israel, and his 18-year-old brother is too young to receive such a permit. This monthly sum is needed for medical equipment, medication, visits to the doctor and physiotherapy that Haroun needs at Khirbet al-Rakiz as well. The bullet that a soldier shot at Harun’s neck has taken so much from him, but not his pride nor his determination to lead his life as he wishes, in the harsh conditions forced upon him by his wounding. 

We turn to you to help him realize his wish, to spend the time left for him to live among his loved ones, in his beloved home in Khirbet al-Rakiz.

Ehud and Erella

On behalf of the Villages Group

For donations: 

In USA:    In UK:

In using those channels, please specify that your donation is going to Harun’s home treatment  

For donations from other countries:

Hibuk Olam (registered NGO)

Bank Name: Bank Leumi

Bank Identification Code: LUMIILITXXX

Routing Code: IL010806

Account Number: 0630619648

Bank Address: 50 Dizengoff St.  Tel-Aviv, Israel 6433222

IBAN Number: IL 05010806-00000-30619648

This is Not an Occupation Anymore …

Dear friends,

We visit Khalet a-Dabe’ (the hyena’s habitat area in Arabic) quite often. Nearly every Tuesday. One time because Jaber’s home had been demolished, another time because his brother’s home had been demolished, and then because other villagers’ homes had been demolished, and then because Jaber’s home was demolished again, and so on and on. 

Jaber’s home has been demolished five times. After the fifth time, he decided to delay rebuilding his 6th home and pitched a tent above the cave in which he lives with his wife and children. We continue to visit him, in spite of the large concrete cube that has been placed recently on the way to the village with the inscription “firing zone”.

We drove up the rocky dirt road, climbing the hill to Khalet a-Dabe’. The landscape is gradually revealed. Masafer Yatta unfolds before our eyes, with its hills and valleys. We know it well, this scenery that takes our breath away and surprises us time and again. Only this time we stop every few meters and keep taking photos of the village that gradually appears at the top of the hill. We photograph and sigh, as if we received news of an imminent natural calamity that is about to destroy the village. But no, it is not a natural calamity that will soon demolish the village. It is the occupation army that will destroy it. Earlier this week demolition orders to all the village houses were ratified.

Twenty-seven homes of seventy adults and children can be demolished at any time starting from September 29, 2022, by court order. Two days after the Jewish New Year, on days meant to be days of soul searching prior to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We entered Jaber’s tent. In his typical sensitivity he realizes that we already know and he says: “This is not an occupation anymore. This is revenge.” And I add, “This is evil.” He nods in agreement and smiles his enchanting smile, exposing the pain of the strong.

In the past, there were four caves in Khalet a-Dabe’ . Now only a few homes stand next to a cave. We asked what would happen to people who don’t have a cave. “No one will move away when demolitions take place,” Jaber answered in his modest unassuming determination, and continued to chat with us.

The twins, Hamade and Thiam, born to Jaber and his wife three months ago, moved back this week from their grandmother’s home in the town of Yatta to their renovated cave. I spent some time with them, forcefully pushing away demolition scenes that kept presenting themselves to me just because I was rocking three-month old babies in my arms.

We reached Khalet a-Dhabe’ at noon from the village of a-Tuwani whose residents had experienced a settler/military shock less than 24 hours earlier. A man and his son were grazing their flock in their own field, close to home, when five masked settlers came and started beating up the field owner. When he defended himself and hurt one of his assailants, the Israeli media reported that a Jewish shepherd was attacked by a Palestinian and was seriously injured in the face. This event was already described in details (

Coming from beaten a-Tuwani to Khalet a-Dabe’, I thought I am going out of my mind. The little sanity left in me was wondering what tale would the occupier make up this time. After all, Khalet a-Dabe’ is quite remote, with neither settlements or an army base nor Palestinian villages nearby. Perhaps the spirit of the hyenas (dabe’) that once roamed there threatens the security of the Jewish State.

You are right, Jaber, this is not an occupation anymore. This is revenge, ethnic cleansing, greed, ignorance, stupidity, evil, for a long time now words fail me. This time too. I have no words for the turmoil in my soul in face of the imminent demolition that can happen during the coming days of atonement, and yet, this time too, I wrote …


On behalf of the Villages Group

Head of Dqaiqeh Village Council – They are Demolishing Our village

The Bedouin village of Dqaiqeh (Khirbet a-Duqaiqah ( ) is located a few hundred meters to the east of Masfer Yatta. Thus, it is not part of military zone 918. Yet, it suffers from much of the restrictions and abuse that was inflicted recently by the occupation forces on Masafer Yatta. Below is a letter that we received form our old friend Muhammad Ka’abne, who serves now as the Head of Dqaiqeh Village Council      . 

For Muhammad’s personal story see

They are Demolishing Our village– Please support us!!

The villagers of Dqaiqeh originate from the A-Ka’abne tribe whose roots reach back to the beginning of the Islamic conquests. According to historians, it was the first tribe to arrive in Palestine from the Arabian Peninsula. The people of the tribe settled south-east of Hebron. After the 1948 Nakba and according to the armistice line, two thirds of the tribe’s habitat were allocated to Israel’s territory. The village Dqaiqeh itself remained close to the 1949 armistice line between Israel and Jordan, in Jordanian territory, and suffered from both sides. Subsequently, many of the tribe’s people migrated northward, to the area surrounding Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as to Jordan.

In 1967, after Israel occupied the West Bank from Jordan, Dqaiqeh became an ‘unrecognized village’. Its inhabitants continued to make their living mainly from sheep, goat and camel husbandry. But the occupation authorities have surrounded the village, suffocating it more and more over the years, in order to uproot them from their homes and habitat – entry into grazing grounds was banned, water cisterns were destroyed, and especially dozens of demolition orders were issued to homes and other structures of the villagers. Yet the people did not give up: they held onto their lands, and their perseverance and determination did not falter. This holding onto the land contributed to  the Israeli Civil Administration recently recognizing the village and enabling the preparation of a masterplan for it. Indeed, the inhabitants subsequently built dozens of homes, but unfortunately their joy did not last. The occupation army established a base a mere few hundred meters to the south of the village, and its soldiers have taken over the hilltops, in order to shrink the grazing grounds of shepherds in the desert and deny them the ability to water their flocks from the cisterns dug out by their forefathers years before the beginning of the Israeli occupation.

Now, additional steps are being taken that might cause the complete destruction of the village: as a part of a comprehensive project of erecting the Separation Barrier in the southern part of the West Bank, the occupation army is now opening a dirt road and digging an adjacent deep ditch running very close to the village. Thus, it is compromising the lives of children and animals, exposing them to dirt avalanches in the summer and disasters in the winter, when the ditch will be filled with flood water.

In this situation, we turn to the free nations of the world and to international institutions, to the mass media, and to the Israeli people – listen to our cry for help and stand by us in the name of morality, protect us and stop the Israeli bulldozers from continuing their shameful undertaking against the villagers who have always sought peace and only wish to make a decent livelihood and to be free to move with their flocks and to cross with them the armistice line (the ‘Green Line’), both of whose sides are ruled by the same state (Israel).

Please come and visit us, be our honored guests and you will see a sad village in every sense of the word – an army surrounds it nearly from all sides, and bulldozers are wrecking its lands on a daily basis. The villagers feel like prisoners for life.

We salute and thank any free person anywhere who will stand by this sad village and spread all over the world this information about the injustice being done to us, unhindered.

 Muhammad Ka’abne, Head of Dqaiqeh Village Council

Massafer Yatta is dying… Save our Masafer!

Written by a local student

Masafer Yatta is in its death throes, trying to catch its last breath. Its story is about to end in face of an indifferent Arab and international world. Ever since the Nakba it has held onto its land, bearing tragedy and hardship. Its people have guarded its land, taken it upon themselves to loyally hold on at the price of making do with as little as possible. Thus, they showed themselves to be daring and honorable people, who persevered, lived and died, entrusting the land in the hands of their children.

Their sons bore this entrusted land, fulfilling their fathers’ will and testament, holding on to the land as well. In so doing, they added their own lines to the most wonderous stories of resistance and resilience. They lived in caves and grew up among the hills and valleys of the Masafer. They asked for nothing but to live safely like other people in the world. With the years, they added tents, hoping to be sheltered from the heat of the summers and the cold of the winters, but their hopes were shattered. The powers of injustice were lying in wait. They demolished these tents on their residents but did not break their determination, as they went back to living in caves. In view of this determination, the occupiers wished to tempt them with offers of financial restitution, but they refused these offers and insisted on staying. The occupiers’ harassment of the Masafer people did not cease. In the light of day, they expelled them far away, but the people, determined and persistent, came back at night to the caves that embraced them. 

Harassment continued. The occupiers confiscated their flocks and fined them exorbitantly. This did not make them despair – they collected the required sums and won back their livestock. The occupiers did not rest but rather employed methods of harassment and suffocation. At times they conducted night searches and arrested people, at other times they confiscated tractors used for agriculture. But the residents stood fast. They ran schools in unstable tents that do not protect anyone from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. This proved how important knowledge and schooling is for them, and showed that the pupil’s pen is no less important than the fighter’s gun. After a while, the school tents were replaced by poor concrete classrooms. Before long their haters’ bulldozers arrived and demolished these classrooms. Their spirits did not fall, and again and again, at night, they rebuilt the classrooms. But the damned bulldozers always returned and destroyed their basic aspirations for education, aspirations that have been their refuge. Finally, after years of failed efforts, what the occupiers could not do with their battalions, tanks and planes, they decided to do through the Supreme Court. We are all aware that this court’s proceedings were meant to legitimize the execution of military orders under the umbrella of “the law”.

But what kind of law gives one the right to rob land and expel its inhabitants? This court required the Palestinians to provide proof of ownership of their land. As far as this court is concerned, no documents means no ownership. The Masafer’s people, their ownership of their lands etched in their hearts, could also show documents proving it. Presented with such evidence, the judges stalled and drew out their sessions uselessly. For they know who the true owners of the lands are. When you walk in the Masafer, you realize it belongs to its Arab owners just by looking at its bright sky, its tall hills and its steep valleys. Finally, the judges decided that a verdict must be reached. As for the Masafer’s people, they held on to a sliver of hope, knowing full well that this is a ‘Supreme Court of Justice’ in name only, that in fact it does not wish to do any kind of justice. The area’s people came to court hoping that the judges’ conscience and reason would free them of their hardships and suffering. The representatives of the army, though, counted on the court to blindly rule in their favor. Within moments, an elderly judge read a ruling declaring ‘the area is a closed military zone’. The implications of this ruling are demolitions, of homes, schools, mosques, the entire way of life. Smiling with satisfaction, the army’s representatives left the court. With their hearts filled with sorrow and pain, the owners of the land went back home, vowing that for them holding on to their land is a matter of life or death.

If you go to Masafer Yatta these days, you will see movement that has come to a halt, soldiers on the hilltops, army jeeps raiding villages and tightening the grip on their inhabitants. All this has been going on for so long, that the Masafer cannot withstand it anymore. After decades of independent resistance, this sad home-land seeks respite. But how can it rest, when it is filled with soldiers and army?! Occupation’s yoke is heavy. Masafer Yatta is dying… Save our Masafer!

A Report


Twice saw God that “it was good” on the third day of Creation. Tuesday is the day I usually visit my friends in the South Hebron Hills. Today is Tuesday, so I’m here, with Ehud, Yair and Danny. At noon we visited friends at Mufaqara, a village where settlers from the nearby settlements held a pogrom last September, at the end of Tabernacles (on the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth). The village is located inside Masafer Yatta and therefore, inside ‘firing zone 918’.

We proceed from one family home to another on foot, while Ehud brings our vehicle around. Suddenly a car passes him, that familiar vehicle of the Civil Administration, driven by Ilan. If this man’s heart was not shut, his mind not wrinkled and his spirit not power-driven, his face might have been handsome.

Ilan says to Ehud: “Are you a resident? Do you have the army’s permission to be here? If I see your car again, I’ll confiscate it. This is a firing zone and you are not allowed to be here.” 

We had planned to visit Fakhit, in the heart of the firing zone. We gave up the idea. This man, representing the occupation forces, who enable the settlers to walk freely in this firing zone and evict its Palestinian residents, chase us away as well – Israelis no less kosher than any settler. I felt my heart break with this familiar seething pain of helplessness. I face the embodiment of despicable evil, and all I can do is succumb to it?

We did not go to Fakhit. We were afraid that our Subaru would be confiscated and we could no longer visit the area. As if from now on, we can only visit places that have not been declared a military zone. We did not go to Masafer Yatta in order not to be prevented from visiting Masafer Yatta. How surreal!

That’s what today was like. This encounter with Ilan of the Civil Administration took us by surprise and we responded accordingly. We did not go down to Masafer Yatta, to the part that is located in the heart of ‘firing zone 918’. We went to Susya. I asked to be alone.

I sit in Susya, by myself, in the shaded area by the home of Azam and Wadha, our good friends who are away at the moment. I write these words in order to temper the pain a bit, so it won’t turn into helpless rage. 

Next week, I will go to Masafer Yatta. To Fakhit, to Jinba, to Markiz, to Khalat A-Dab’a. If the car is confiscated, so be it. We shall release it for several thousand shekels which would probably be paid back to us because we are Jewish Israelis. And perhaps we won’t be able to get to the villages for a few weeks. 

I do not want to allow them to rob me of my freedom. I have no interest in collaborating with the stranglehold of the Israeli occupation that is tightening around the necks of my Palestinian friends, and thus around our necks as well. An ancient knowledge, clear and simple as when it was born, permeates throughout every cell of my body: there is no way to rob me of my freedom.

No blood today. No one was killed. Nor wounded. No beatings. No arm-twisting. Just an attempt –wretchedly powerful – to control the human spirit. 

Sorry, Ilan – this I cannot grant you.


(On behalf of the Villages Group)

An Appeal on Behalf of Jaber – A Cave Dweller from Masafer Yatta

June 21, 2022 (Summer solstice, the longest day of the year)

To our dear friends all,

On May 4, 2022, the State of Israel’s Supreme Court decided to publicize its ruling, to dispossess the inhabitants of Masafer Yatta of their homes and land. It was the eve of the Jewish State’s seventy-fourth Independence Day. 

I have friends in Masafer Yatta, some of them close friends. Dababsa is one of them. Jaber lives with his wife and three sons (9, 7 and 2-years old) in Khalat A-Dab’a, one of the eight villages now destined for dispossession.  Jaber lives in a cave, like many others in this area. As the family grew, Jaber built them a small dwelling with his own golden hands. It was demolished. This happened in 2019. He built it again. I told him they would demolish it again, and he said he would rebuild. Thus – five times. Five times the occupation forces demolished Jaber’s home. When I visited him after the second demolition, I write the following:

The Za’atar

Even last Wednesday, October 16, 2019, Jaber welcomed us with his winning smile. A smile that has something open and mysterious and bittersweet, all at once. My heart noted some silent longing to hold a hidden scarlet thread and follow him into the depths of his mind, reflected in his smile.
Three weeks earlier his home was demolished. We visited him the next day, and he smiled. When we visited him yesterday, again his special smile was there.
It was an autumn day. The sky above was gray and a drizzle had begun. Jaber opened the wings of a tiny tent he erected after the demolition in order to sit with his guests (the family lives in the cave for the time being), and invited us in.
For a long while Jaber spoke of his feelings, his wonder, his painful thoughts about the home that had been demolished and the destruction of the trees he had planted.
We began to walk towards our car, parked on the main dirt road, making our way among the dirt rubble of the demolition. With such compassion his hands had caressed the pomegranates that had been uprooted from mother earth, and wilted. Suddenly he stopped, bent down, pointed to a tiny green shoot that had made its way among the rubble, smiled and said: “This sprout is za’atar, insisting on living”. I looked into his eyes and asked his permission to ask something. “Go ahead”, he said. “What holds you inside, what keeps you from getting angry, hateful?”
“I tell myself that this is what occupation is like”, he answered, and smiled his special smile in the humility saved for those who know…

This is Jaber. He refuses to play the dangerous game of perpetrator and victim. In this game, as he has no control of the perpetrator, he knows how not to be a victim.

“I shall not fall into their trap. They want me to be miserable enough not to care anymore, and hate and seek revenge. I will not give them this gift.” This is what he said to me on one of my latest visits. Three days later a settler broke his nose with brass knuckles while he was held down to the ground by two soldiers of the ‘most moral army in the world’.  Jaber’s wife carried a child in her womb until just before this last Independence Day eve, the days when there was still the crack of a chance that justice, in the Higher Court of Justice, would rule in favor of Masafer Yatta. After three sons, they were hoping for a daughter. Ten days ago, she bore Jaber twins – sons. I visited again, asking what I could bring as a present. I wished to bring something that would be useful, necessary. Jaber with his gentle smile answered that what he really needs I cannot bring him as a gift. I insisted on knowing. “A place”, he said. I invited myself to the cave in which they live. It is my first visit to their dwelling cave.
In a small living space, and another such small space that serves as a kitchen and a shower (in a small tub) live five persons. Another few days, when the mother with her twin-babies will return from the hospital after her Cesarean section, seven persons will be living there.
Jaber will not rebuild now that the dispossession sword threatens his head, but he has begun to dig an additional cave near the existing one. He worked by himself, but the Congo digging machine must be rented as well as fuel for it, and he has been paying from the pittance he managed to save from occasional work. And the money is now gone. I asked him how much money he thinks he will need in order to conclude the digging. Jaber said it is not a sum that I and our small group could raise. I begged him to tell him. I told him that when many people give a little, one can even reach a serious sum.
20,000 shekels, he estimated carefully, accompanying this with his special smile. “Thank you,” I said. “I will try to involve friends”, I added. So here I am, involving you… Whoever is willing and able to support this. And I thank you, even for just reading this letter.

On behalf of the Villages Group

For donations: (for the USA) (for the UK)

Other Countries: 

Account Name: Hibuk Olam (registered NGO:580564995)
Bank Name: Bank Leumi

Bank Identification Code: LUMIILITXXX

Routing Code: IL010806

Account Number: 0630619648

Bank Address: 50 Dizengoff St.  Tel-Aviv, Israel 6433222

IBAN Number: IL 05010806-00000-30619648

Few Weeks in the Life of Nidal – a Palestinian from Susya 

Until recently, Nidal Nawaj’a of Susya village in the South Hebron Hills worked in Israel, decently feeding his family – five daughters, a son, and one still unborn – and had never had trouble with the army.  

It’s not simple, for the settlers from the nearby Susya produce new provocations every day. The settlement was founded on lands from which the original Susya villagers owned, but this does not suffice the settlers. In recent years they have erected a whole series of illegal outposts, malignant outgrowths aiming to make their neighbors’ lives miserable and prevent them from grazing their flocks. Lately they have even invaded the scrawny playground of the Palestinian Susya children.

But Nidal has the patience and persistence characterizing the South Hebron Hills villagers and managed to refrain from confrontations.

Until Thursday, February 17. That day, on his way back from work he saw a plume of black smoke rising near his own home. He ran there and saw a gang of settlers burning tires in his field, where barley had just begun to sprout after the rains. He knows them well – they are the ones throwing stones at the children on their way to school, and one of the settlers had pepper-sprayed his brother a month ago. He ran towards them and told them to leave his land. ‘Why are you spoiling the field?’ he yelled, in broken Hebrew.

This is a place where, following previous invasions by settlers and their flocks of Nidal’s field, an official ordinance has been issued forbidding their entering the area. This was a clear case of trespassing, but the invaders refused to leave. They threw stones at Nidal and one of them threatened him with a big stick. Nidal pushed the gang leader who fell on the ground, and only then they left. Nidal and his neighbors put out the fire and returned home.

The settlers did not summon police as they always do, knowing they had been inside an area where they were not supposed to be. Instead, they came to the Kiryat Arba police station the next day, and lodged a complaint for assault. He claimed that Nidal ‘caught his side-curl and hit him in the head 3 times with a large stone.’ As proof, he attached a photo in which a small lesion is seen in his head – caused perhaps by the fall, or perhaps in fact an old photo – and the report by the nurse at Kiryat Arba (a settler, of course) referring to great swelling. The photo does not show it.

In addition, the settlers presented a video of some seconds showing the push. The previous occurrence and the ‘stone hitting the head’ are not shown in the video. The settler claimed he was allowed to be there for ‘Palestinian children had thrown stones at them’ and that they (the settlers) were just ‘having an innocent campfire’. In his questioning he refused to name and give data of the settlers who were with him.  

On Saturday police investigators reached Nidal and questioned him, and on Sunday night he was arrested. While an Israeli must be brought in front of a judge within 24 hours, the Palestinians have a 96-hour wait. 

Three days later Nidal saw a judge, and the prosecution asked for a 7-day custody to ‘complete investigation’. After Attorney Riham Nasra who helps Susya villagers showed the judge the video taken by Nidal’s daughter in which the burning of tires and stone throwing, as well as the official ordnance forbidding the colonists’ presence there were all seen, the judge ruled this a provocation and the release of Nidal at a 3,000 NIS bail.

The police asked for 72 hours to appeal, the judge acquiesced and Nidal was taken back into custody. The time and freedom of Palestinians are worthless, as we know. On Sunday the prosecutor announced that he has no intention to appeal, that what he said at the previous session was a lie, and instead presented a prosecutor’s declaration and asked for additional days in order to present a request for taking into custody until the end of proceedings. The judge was upset at such abuse of procedure and ordered Nidal’s release.

The prosecutor once again asked to postpone this release and used the time to present an appeal to the appeals court, demanding prolonged custody. Attorney Nasra again claimed that this was illegal, and the judge acquiesced in part (a third judge of the same case, all a matter of a push!) and demanded that the police present an immediate indictment sheet. An additional session was set for Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a fourth judge (!) ruled that there was insufficient evidence for extending custody until the end of proceedings, for ‘investigation flaws were quite obvious’ – the video contradicting the plaintiff’s version, the settler who kept his right to silence under questioning, the police who did not both to question settlers present at the event and Palestinian eyewitnesses who saw it all. He ordered to free Nidal, but the police – not bothering to question the colonist and his pals – once again asked for a delay. Another session was set in which the prosecutor wished to bring a representative of the settler– a measure that has no legal basis. The judge agreed and prolonged custody until Sunday. 

On Sunday a fifth (!) judge ruled to free Nidal because of ‘serious difficulties with the evidence’ and wondered again why the police did not bother to gather testimonies from those present. Still, this judge raised the bail to 12,000 NIS – a fortune for a simple Palestinian farmer – and in addition, demanded a signed guarantee by a third party for 10,000 NIS. To all this one should add the attorney’s fees, who charges minimally but still had to attend no less than 6 sessions of the military court, all because of a slight push.

For a whole day, Nidal’s family ran around trying to gather the money for his release bail, since his wife was due to have a baby any day now. The next morning, they showed up at Ofer Base with the bail money and waited for hours outside the gate. Only in the afternoon did they find out he was transferred to another base, without their being notified. After more hardships, Nidal finally returned home at 1:30 a.m., after 16 days in custody.

When we met him the next day, he was celebrating the birthday of one of his daughters (thus the hats…), and hosting friends and relatives who used the sunny spring day and Women’s Day to visit their home village. His permit to work in Israel has been automatically rescinded, as is customary every time a settler lodges a complaint against a Palestinian, so he does not know how he will earn his family’s livelihood – and return the bail money which his friends had put up. Life under Israeli military occupation.

Yair Ron on behalf of the Villages Group 

Death of Hajj Suleiman

January 18, 2022

More than words, a silent moment is needed now. And still I write.

Rather than addressing these words to someone, I write them to myself. Perhaps they will help quieten my stormy spirit, my upsetedness, so that I can meet the pain without escaping it.

Hajj Suleiman died yesterday (Monday). Today he was buried in the earth on which he had lived and which gave him his bread. “We only want bread and peace”, he used to say when we visited Umm al-Khair, his village.

During our frequent visits at his home, he would lecture to us, down to the minutest details and in total control, about the political state of Israel, the region, the world. It was no mere political knowledge. It was Sliman’s howl against injustice, and his uncompromising search for a sliver of justice being trampled further by the occupation’s boots.

We have walked alongside Suleiman for many years. 

A while after meeting him, he told us he had worked for years as a hired hand for the JNF, and did not see a penny’s severance pay when he was fired. He asked us to help him receive what he deserved by law and logic. “I worked there with all my heart”, said Suleiman. “What naivete, expecting justice from the most racist organization in Israel”, I thought to myself.  

For years, Suleiman’s voice took on a special tone when he asked me, “Danny? Danny?” to inquire about my partner who had undergone numerous catheterizations.

“Rain? Rain?” he would ask, in a different tone, wanting to know whether we had seen rain during the long years of threatening drought both in the South Hebron Hills and in our Negev lands. Before our Passover holiday, he would ask us to bring him matzos. He loved them, and their Biblical story.

Last Ramadan was hard on Hajj Suleiman. I reminded him of the lighter conditions that Islamic law assured elderly people. Suleiman looked at me, astonished. How can one even suggest such a thing to a faithful, brave warrior? 

Umm al-Khair has seen many demolitions under the occupation. Hajj Suleiman would protest – speak, then shout, then scream at the destroyers. His words fell on deaf ears and blind hearts. How much inner strength does a man need to resist injustice without slipping into violence. Suleiman reached the edge of this capacity, never lifting a single stone. He never hit anyone. He, who preached and educated non-violent resistance, practiced what he preached. 

Suleiman did not die of old age, nor of sickness. 

It was the Israeli occupation that ran him over to death. 

The occupation servants would often beat him, arrest him, and threaten him when he protested.

But Suleiman, whose personality was made up of a combination of innocence and a burning aspiration for simple, basic human justice, could not have imagined that the servants of occupation could go so far as to kill him without batting an eyelash.

Dear Suleiman, you are now united with the earth you loved, your spirit finds its place in higher spheres, and in the spirits of those who knew you. 

Lines by Jacques Prevert suit you:

I met him 
At the stonemason’s
Where he was measured
For the future generation.


Harun Comes Home (Still an Interim Report)

To all our friends,

I turned off my computer as I finished watching the documentary Good Garbag, but no button can turn off my mind’s eye and scenes from the film are still projected onto my heart’s screen even now, will probably continue tomorrow, and perhaps never really be erased from the pile of scenes etched in me, as only the open space of my spirit wraps them and the pain they entail.
Harun was eleven when he joined all those boys, youths, young- and older men who get up before dawn and stream to the central garbage dump in the South Hebron Hills, to try and collect from it things that can be restored, improved, and sold, and bring home a few shekels for food and clothing. Ada Ushpiz and Shosh Shalem documented them and produced the film twelve years ago (check
My friends and I have been following Harun and his family since November 25, 2020, the day on which the occupation forces demolished their home in the hamlet of Khirbet Rakeez, and continue to accompany them ever since those forces also destroyed Harun’s life, on January 1, 2021.
Every time I look at him lying in bed, in the various hospitals where he has spent the past ten months, and now in the house accommodated for his needs in the town of Yatta, I try to imagine him as a child – how did he grow up? With whom did he play? What did he feel? What did he think about? How did his parents look after him?
I now have partial answers for questions that sought them. Torturing answers that only intensify the pain which has been grilling my soul even without them. A delicate and modest child looks out at me from the film that documented him twelve years ago, when he was eleven. Bigger children harassed him and he did not find his place at the garbage dump. He brought home a few shekels and a deep sadness. His loving mother Farsi tried to help, but the competitive – at times even violent – culture that developed at that garbage dump did not suit this delicate, sensitive and innocent boy.
The last scene in the film opens to the viewer’s vision the virginal hills of the South Hebron Hills with their vast spaces. Rasmi, Harun’s father, says to his small son there: ‘Don’t go to the garbage dump any more. It’s not for you. Please, go back to school. You’ll study there. It’s important to study.’
Harun never went back to his school studies, but he never returned to the garbage dump either. Harun went out to learn the language of the desert. He learned its curves, the open and invisible crannies of this earth which hosted him and his sheep and goats. Together they prayed for rain, together they were joyous when it came, and together they coped with the dry season.
For twelve years Harun and his family lived in their cave at Rakeez and in its fields, until the day when his body was vanquished by an evil gunshot from a soldier of the Israeli occupation forces.
Ten months and three weeks have passed since that day.
The first four-and-a-half months after he was shot, Haroun spent in the ICU at Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. They saved his life, but there was a need to wean him from the ventilation machine to which he was connected. In all of the occupied West Bank not a single hospital was found specializing in respiratory rehabilitation, so we looked for an Israeli hospital specializing in this treatment, as well as institutional funding. In the meantime, Al-Ahli hospital, financed by the Palestinian Authority, cared for Harun as much as it could, for four-and-a-half months. Several health parameters, necessary for possible respiratory rehabilitation, were stabilized, but at the same time Harun’s body developed bedsores that worsened. The Palestinian hospital notified his family that it could no longer hold Harun after the end of May 2021. At the same time, Reuth, an Israeli hospital, with a ward dedicated to respiratory rehabilitation, agreed to receive Harun. But we had not yet found funding. The State of Israel is not willing to accept even humanitarian responsibility, and the Palestinian Authority is not willing to finance hospitalization in Israel. In our distress, we had no other choice but to try and appeal to people in this universe whose heart is still open to compassion, as Tikh Nhat Han’s poem reads – ‘Please call Me by my True Names’, whose last lines are as follows:
Please call me by my true names,So I can hear all my cries and laughterAt once,So I can see that my joy and pain are one.Please, call me by my true names,So I can wake up,So that the door of my heart could remain open -The door of compassion

The rest is history.
Harun was hospitalized in Reuth for five months, as a “medical tourist” ( more than 90,000 shekels a month), all funded by private persons in Israel and abroad, each donating as much as they could. We do not have the sufficient words to express our feelings of gratitude.
On October 24, 2021, Harun was released from the hospital and returned to a home reconstructed and fitting his special needs – not in his village of A-Rakeez, but in the nearby town of Yatta. No fields, no flock, no horse that he had wished to purchase, nor the wide-open desert. But no more hospitals. Now he is surrounded by his loving family.
Harun is now breathing independently but struggles with repetitive inflammations caused by his bedsores. The treatment that a hospital can offer him – at the cost of more than 90,000 shekels a month – can now be obtained for him at home, with a much lower cost.
Just before Harun was released, the chief nurse specializing in bedsores told us: “These sores [which in Harun’s case are in the most severe stage] will either heal, which may take years, or kill him.”
We continue to accompany Harun and his family. Again, we have been knocking on the doors of the Palestinian Authority (after all, he is now under its jurisdiction) and again we are refused, over and over again. However, in the meantime Harun needs medication and other equipment, and three male nurses that take care of him, and must be paid, after his mother has been taking care of him for more than a week, 24 hours a day, while her other children no longer remembered when she last functioned as their mother.
During the few weeks that have passed since Harun’s return to Yatta, a team of male nurses has been formed, under the capable hands of Muhammad Daoud, a senior and experienced male nurse coordinating Harun’s treatment, who has knowledge of and connections with medical institutions in the area. This team was recently joined by our friend from Umm al-Kheir, the physiotherapist Alaa Hathaleen. This team’s dedicated treatment is already bearing fruit in terms of Harun’s both physical and emotional condition. The ability to continue and cover the costs of this home-care team, currently estimated at about 10,000 ILS a month, is crucial for Harun’s survival and for his learning to come to terms and to cope with the severe handicaps his injury entails.
Reality does not allow us to feel embarrassed, ashamed, apologetic. We now stand before you, bare, and ask for your help yet again. And yet again we shall not even have enough words to thank you, nor do we have words for big promises. Harun is walking (metaphorically) a very thin line between life and death. And we still wish to do everything we can for him, for his life, as long as he is struggling to live.
Erella (on behalf of Yair, Ehud, Tamar, Hamed, Islam, Dani and Nadav)

For donations:
Hibuk Olam, Bank Leumi (10), Branch 806 (Dizengoff), Account 30619648
In USA: In UK:
In using those channels, please specify that your donation is going to Harun’s home treatment