A Report

7.6.2022

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.

Erella

(On behalf of the Villages Group)

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