Author Archives: Ophir

Head of Dqaiqeh Village Council – They are Demolishing Our village

The Bedouin village of Dqaiqeh (Khirbet a-Duqaiqah (https://www.btselem.org/.south_hebron_hills/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 https://living-archive.org/movie/an-ambassador-for-love/?lang=en

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

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)

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.

Erella
On behalf of the Villages Group

For donations:

https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_hirn (for the USA)

https://app.donorfy.com/form/M1ZI3YVCZ8/HIRN (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.

Erella

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGkO8s49l00&t=5s).
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: nonviolenceinternational.net In UK: cafdonate.cafonline.org
In using those channels, please specify that your donation is going to Harun’s home treatment

Erella’s Update on Harun’s Treatment in Re’ut Rehabilitation Hospital

Greetings to our friends who accompany Harun and help us support his rehabilitation,

For three weeks now, Harun has been hospitalized in Israel at the rehabilitation hospital “Re’ut”, in the ventilated patients’ section.

On Monday, a meeting was held of the hospital’s medical team, that included the head physician of the department, the physiotherapist, social worker, coordinator Evelyn, Harun’s mother, and Yair and myself of the Villages Group which has been accompanying Harun from the day of his injury.

The physician has reported that since Harun was hospitalized at Re’ut, his condition has improved. His body is getting stronger, the bedsores which endangered his life are gradually healing, and most important – he has begun a ‘weaning’ process from the ventilator. She believes that soon Harun will be able to breathe independently and speak again in his own voice.

The neck muscles that were not injured will enable Harun to learn to sit stable. However, he will probably remain unable to move his arms and legs. If he is able to move even a single finger, he could be mobile in an electric wheelchair. The medical team will do everything it can in order to rehabilitate whatever is possible. Time will tell, and the process is still in its beginning stages.

At the end of our meeting with the medical staff, I dared ask the physician whether she can estimate how long Harun needs to remain hospitalized. I apologized and explained that I ask such a difficult question because the financing of this rehabilitation is private, not institutional – we are raising these funds from donations and even a primary estimate will be of help. The doctor was very respectful and understanding, and said she thinks it might take two-three months.

We share this interim report with you, for without your help Harun would not have reached this present stage. His condition three weeks ago was precarious. Unless he had arrived at the rehabilitation hospital with your help, he would not have survived.

All our efforts to persuade the Palestinian Authority to finance it have been in vain. The only way we had left was to reach out for help. And you heard our call, each in their own way, and sent to us – each with their ability – that enabled Harun to begin the long road to rehabilitation.

We are now sending out more calls. Donations so far have sufficed to cover the first month and another 20 days of the second month. The hospital requires payment ahead of time – at the beginning of each month. The date on which the second payment is close at hand, and we still do not have enough to cover the full cost of the second month (28,000$\90,960 NIS), and nothing for the third month.

We search for the right word that would express what our hearts, and the hearts of Harun and his family feel for you, and cannot find anything worthier than heartfelt gratitude.

‘Grateful’ echoes the word ‘grace’, and that is very suitable here.

Erella
On behalf of the Villages Group and HIRN

Please transfer your donations as follows:

If you are in the UK: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7827#!/DonationDetails

If you are in the USA: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_hirn

If you are elsewhere: 

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

A Report by Erella on Yesterday’s Demolitions in South Hebron Hills

2/3/2021

Dear friends all,

It’s evening. Just got back home from the South Hebron Hills, and am still reeling from room to room, like some plaything that has been wound up, in an attempt to calm down.

Now I stare at the computer screen trying to write something. I get up to make myself a cup of coffee. I pace again.

Sit down at the computer again, and can only write how I cannot write about what happened today.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened today. Several homes were demolished in the South Hebron Hills.

I was there again today.

At 9 a.m. we came to A-Rakeez. Farsi, whose home has already been demolished three times, whose son Harun was shot in the neck by a soldier 2 months ago, ran to us, pointing to the road.

We turned our heads and saw the familiar destroyer convoy – a bulldozer followed by the Civil Administration car and military vehicles.

Shortly they will be busy demolishing. We just don’t know where and whose home.

The locals say it will happen at Khalat A-Dhaba and at A-Rakeez.

Khalat A-Dhaba it was – for the fourth time, the home of Jaber and his brother Omar. The fourth time in a year and a half.

Then they proceeded to demolish the home of Khathem at A-Rakeez. Again, we see the bulldozer crushing a humble abode with one blow of its blade. Poof, and an entire life collapses into the rubble. We watch from a distance – the occupier does not like being disturbed in his work – and experience for the Nth time the pain of those who cannot hold out a hand to prevent the destruction.

We drove on to Jaber, to hold out a hand.

Two weeks ago, we sat with him on the porch of the home he had built after the November 2020 demolition. I asked him what happens if they demolish again, and he answered: “I’ll rebuild”. Now he faces the rubble and says: “I’ll rebuild”.

Ilan of the Civil Administration harasses him personally. When he came this time, Jaber asked him: “Have you come to shoot me as you shot Haroun?”

This is how we stood for a long while, listening to Jaber give interviews to Palestinian media people who curried to the scene. If only this pain could be broadcast in the occupiers’ media, I thought.

When we visited 2 weeks ago, I brought Jaber a photo of a fledgling dove on its first flight. I told him: “Peace is not in our hands, but our freedom cannot be taken from us, and this fledgling dove symbolizes it.”

Today I asked him where the photo was, and he said: “In the rubble…” He fell silent, then added: “But they cannot destroy my freedom”.

Erella

On behalf of the Villages Group

The Shocking Story of Harun From a-Rakeez

4\1\2021

The way to al-Ahali hospital in Hebron passes blocked and chaotic streets somewhat reminiscent of southern Tel Aviv. Inside – a hospital like any in the world, long corridors and many people worried and waiting, waiting worried.

Harun’s father and uncle are waiting tool. They both have bright blue eyes like Harun’s, who is lying ventilated in an Intensive Care Unit since an Israeli soldier shot him in the neck without any reason, last Friday.

For fear of Covid-19 we were not allowed to approach him, and only watched him – connected to machines and tubes – from the doorway. He seemed asleep, until he suddenly opened a pair of huge eyes and stared for a long time at the ceiling. That’s the only place he can look at. The bullet severed his spinal cord between vertebrae C6 and C7. He cannot turn his head or look anywhere else. But his clear gaze told us he will live. And that he knows.

Before our visit, we sat with Harun’s family and neighbors and heard more details about the crime that took place there on January 1, a New Year’s present by the Jewish settler-colonists, the Israeli army and Civil Administration to the villagers of a-Rakeez. We heard about what happened prior to the shooting, and even more horrific – what happened afterwards.

Last Sunday, Ashraf – Harun’s neighbor on the opposite hill – heard that the Israeli court had declared a moratorium on the demolitions in the area. Ashraf thought this would be an opportunity to expand his sheep pen, brought along plates and metal pipes, and on Tuesday the sheep pen was standing.

Friday morning, settler-colonists of nearby Havat Ma’on came and photographed the sheep pen. Let us remember that Havat Ma’on itself – an illegal outpost like all of the outposts erected on every hilltop – is metastasizing like a violent cancer without any construction permits, but on the Planet of Occupation there are different laws for the superior race.

The Civil Administration and Israeli army acted immediately. At 2 p.m. an army jeep and pickup truck of the Civil Administration stopped by Ashraf’s house. The soldiers entered. What are you looking for? asked Ashraf. The soldiers had no warrant and did not even bother to explain to Ashraf what they were doing in his home. “Shut up”, the soldier said and pushed him. “Shut up and stand aside”.

As we know, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have no human right whatsoever: not to dignity, not to privacy, not to fair trial. Their home is not immune to nightly incursions and demolitions, their property exposed to arbitrary confiscation, their life and limb trampled by any soldier who happens to feel like it.

The soldiers did whatever they pleased in Ashraf’s home, in view of his wife and little son. They discovered an electric cable to which Ashraf had connected a disk-saw, followed it and found the generator, that generator made famous by the video, worth some hundreds of shekels. With no reason or explanation, they took it and placed it in the Civil Administration pickup truck. Why? Shut up!

Ashraf was not willing to take it. He tried to take the generator back and the soldiers beat him up. Rasmi, Harun’s father who works in Israel and came home for the weekend, saw the hubbub and came to help. The soldiers beat him up too. Harun saw his father being beaten up and ran to his help. They were joined by another boy or two, while Ashraf’s wife stood aside, shouting, and their 2-year old son. And that’s it.

The unnecessary fight breaking out between armed Israeli soldiers and 4-5 Palestinians was named by the Israeli army spokesperson “a violent riot of 150 Palestinians that included massive stone-throwing”. Yes. Seriously. On the Planet of Occupation, truth is not an option.

And then the shot rang out, and Harun fell, and the soldiers and Civil Administration representative ran to their secured vehicles, and Ashraf and Rasmi loaded bleeding Harun on to Ashraf’s jalopy and tried to take him to the hospital. But the army jeep blocked their way and would not let them through.

Ashraf drove off the road and tried to bypass the soldiers. And then they shot his tires. Yes. Israeli soldiers shot the tires of the car that was taking to hospital the young man they had shot in the neck not over a minute ago. Yes. What is there left to say.

Somehow, they managed to get to the neighboring village of a-Tuwani, and passed Harun onto the vehicle of Muohammad Rab’i. When they were on the main road again, the soldiers were waiting for them again. And stopped them again. And again Muhammad had to escape them with the bleeding Harun on the back seat. And shots rang out again in their direction. Yes. Yes.

In the next village, the ambulance was already waiting and they drove on to Yatta. The doctor says that another ten minutes delay and Harun would not be alive any longer. He stopped the bleeding and sent Harun to Hebron, where he received primary care and was sedated for two days until his condition stabilized. That’s where we saw him today.

We left the father and uncle with Harun and went back to a-Rakeez. We met his mother, Farsi, shaken between hope and unknowing, his brother Muhammad (16) and his sister Hanan (14) who are going berserk, and little Doha who does not yet understand. We also met Harun’s fiancée, Du’a. She seemed frozen and in shock, and wouldn’t say a word. They were supposed to be married two months from now.

The mother was especially worried about Muhammad. He and Harun were so close, she said, always together, planning the new house they would build, speaking about the large wedding that Harun dreamt of. What will he do with all the anger, the pain, the helplessness, the sense of horrific injustice?

We sat with Ashraf. One could see how guilty he felt as if somehow everything had happened because of him. On the other hand, who would have thought that a person would be shot over a generator? He cannot get over the lies distributed by the army spokesperson, and repeated them again and again: 150 people? Why invent such a lie?

[At the village outskirts, on our way back, we met a camera crew of Al-Jazeera. The Israeli police stopped them at the entrance to the village and fined the car’s passengers 5000 shekels each for not wearing masks. Yes. Yes. It never ends.]

What now? In Israel Harun could get much better medical care, certainly when his rehabilitation begins. But since Trump declared annexation, the Palestinian Authority does not enable the transfer of patients to Israel nor finance the cost of their care and hospitalization in Israel. Annexation evaporated like a bad dream, but the decision still stands.

In a normal world, Israel would accept responsibility and care for Harun. But words such as “normal” or “responsibility” are not recognized by the occupation lexicon. We are trying to find a way to take Harun to an Israeli hospital. We shall update.

In the meantime, Harun lies there staring at the ceiling. Alone.

 Yair (and Erella) on behalf of the Villages Group