On Monday, October 27, Israeli Army and Police forces demolished dwellings in the western part of the Beduin-Palestinian village of Umm al-Kheir. This was the most massive operation of house demolition in the village since October 2008.
The operation was aimed mostly at three houses that were built in the last two years (on the ruins of earlier demolitions). These houses were built for three young couples: Abd’alla and Ruqaya al-Hathelin and their four children (aged two months to seven years); Kheir’alla and Nura al-Hathelin and their baby girl, and Bilal and Iman al-Hathelin and their baby boy.
On top of that the Israeli occupation forces demolished the mobile home of Samikha (Miyaser) al-Hathelin and her seven children, which was donated to her by European agencies after her house was demolished twice in 2011 and 2012. Samikha’s tabun (traditional bread oven) was demolished as well, although it was not included in the demolition order. It should be mentioned that recently a family from the adjacent Israeli settlement Karmel appealed to court against the tabun claiming that its smoke interrupts their daily life.
In addition, the Israeli occupation forces demolished two temporary buildings that served as the storeroom and kitchen of Suliman and Malikha al-Hathelin.
These last actions are part of an ongoing wave of house demolitions carried out by the Israeli Civil Administration and Army that seek to drive out the inhabitants of the western parts of Umm al Kheir that have been living there for more than sixty years. The main cause for these actions is the proximity of Um Al Kheir to Karmel, the Israeli settlement that was built some thirty years ago.
We arrive and no one interrupts. There are no military forces at the crossroad, no Police, no Civil Administration. The demolishers demolished and went away. We arrive at the calamity – six houses are completely demolished, a tabun that smokes its remnants, furnitures, clothing, toys, kitchenware. And men, women and children, beaten by pain, dwell between rage and depression. Their shoulders – some leaning downwards and some protest; their eyes – some weeping, some burned down, some blazing. Entire life trampled on by the swift movement of a bulldozer and retell the chronicle of heartlessness and wickedness foretold. This is not a demolition, it is demolition again. There is no more power left to draw power from the non-violent resistance. Maybe the strength will come back. But now an hour later – deep mourning. We are part of it; we stand by them, fully present, in order to give the helplessness its deserved respect. Respect for the trauma. We do not hasten to console. We do not hasten to offer solutions. Only to be here in order to make a way for the deadly pain. To cry. It is permitted to cry.
And from her tears, sitting by a small fig tree that somehow survived the extermination, Malikha whispers: “they demolished houses, a tabun, the heart, but why did they have to ruin the small garden I planted?” I touched her tenderly and kept silent. When I will come next time I will bring with me plants that will enable her old tired hands to touch the good earth again and to water it with her bitter tears of pain. Perhaps she would want to plant. Perhaps life will flourish once more….
Erella and Ehud on behalf of the Villlages Group
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