The Story of Fares from Th’ala Village

October 25, 2020

Dear friends,

It’s the end of October, I long for autumn which should have already been here with its consoling coolness, its soft breezes and intoxicating scents – but in the meantime it’s still hot and arid throughout our Negev desert, and our Palestinian friends in the South Hebron Hills have received not a single drop of consoling rain.

Even in the winter, when the hills don a green grass plumage, the sheep get to graze very sparingly in the areas that have remained open to them after their larger parts have been robbed by the area’s Jewish settler-colonists.

All the more so during this dry autumn season. When we were there last Thursday, we saw the flock consuming nothing, and their shepherds stand by helpless… The water holes too are now empty of last season’s rainwater, and the livestock has no water to drink.

And if all of this is not enough, the settler-colonists of Havat Maon have built a large sheep pen at the edge of the hill, distant from their colony, and none of them actually lives there – it overlooks the entire wadi and the hills around it, the grazing ground historically belonging to the Palestinian farmers of the neighboring villages.

A month ago, Fares of Th’ala village went out, as he is wont every morning, to graze his sheep. Carefully he ventured with his flock to a grazing ground close to his village. Soon enough, he noticed four settler-colonists rushing in his direction, and wounding his sheep with knives, as the frightened animals run in all directions.

Fares tries to collect his flock and take it back home. Then, as in a horror film, the settler-colonists free their dog at Fares. They well know that the ‘locals’ fear dogs. And indeed, Fares is afraid and rushes on, the dog following angrily, bearing its fangs. Fares throws a stone at the dog, trying to chase it away. This is the moment the planners have been waiting for. They film Fares throwing the stone as the Israeli army and Civil Administration are already on their way. They lodge a complaint and Fares is under arrest.

The fellow has been in custody for over a month now, accused of throwing stones at innocent settler-colonists out at pasture.

Last Thursday we visited his family at Th’ala village. Fares’ father gave us a warm welcome. From speaking with him, I understood that he trusts the lawyer handling the case. As we sit and inquire, I notice that the left side of his neck is very swollen. I dare ask him about it, and he answers that it is a malignant tumor, that he has already undergone surgery on the other side, and is now waiting for the left side. “Waiting for what?” I ask, and he answers that such surgery is very costly. I kept silent and thought that life under Israeli military occupation is burdened with the “extras”  of hardship, that even without occupation one has a hard time facing.

Now Fares’ father needs money to fund a lawyer in order to release his son, arrested at no fault of his own. The tumor will have to wait…


(On behalf of the Villages Group)

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  • chrisrushlau  On November 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    It’s not “our Negev”, as you well know. It belongs to “our Palestinian friends”.
    As you say, the one thing is connected to the other thing. The one element that belongs to you in this story is your knowing that Fares’ father needs the other surgery. You have stumbled upon that information and cannot unstumble upon it. That information puts the rest of your information, such as this being your Negev, in relief.
    See, God is not stupid.

    Christopher C. Rushlau
    25 Grant St., Apt. 7
    P.O. Box 15368
    Portland, ME USA 04112-5368
    Tel. 207/773-8342

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