Tag Archives: Children

Report on Summer Camps at Susya and Umm-Al-Kheir

The summer camps at Susya and Umm-Al-Kheir have just ended. Both camps are organized locally, and funded with the help of outside donors. Villages Group activists help arrange these funds, work with organizers to help meet their needs, and – most rewardingly – visit the camps to interact with the kids.


At Palestinian Susya, this has been the third consecutive year for the camp. As mentioned above, this has been a homegrown local initiative from the start. This year has seen an impressive increase in the number of participating children: more than 100 children took part each and every day for two weeks. They were divided into several groups, all led by local counselors. Many other Susya residents pitched in to help when needed, and contributed much to the camp’s success.

From our perspective, having accompanied the camp for three years, we at the Villages Group are especially impressed and encouraged this year by the widespread local mobilization, by the range of activities, by the strong organizational skills and by the spirit of participation and enjoyment prevailing among both children and grownups during the camp.

It was a time of pleasant respite for the residents of Susya, who face daily struggles with the Israeli Occupation forces, and especially with the settlers of Israel-established Sussya – who are doing all they can to embitter the lives of their Palestinian neighbors and drive them off their ancestral lands.

Funding for the camp was obtained from many individual donors, most of them Israelis, whose soul has been attached – from anear and afar – to the fate of Palestinian Susya.

Ehud Krinis on behalf of the Villages Group


In mid-July, for the first time, a two-week-long summer camp was launched for children at Umm al Kheir, a Bedouin hamlet in the South Hebron Hills. The camp is organized and directed by the younger adults of this community.

Several families at Umm al Kheir have suffered extreme hardships due to their proximity to the settlement Carmel that was built on their lands thirty years ago. Heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, Carmel has continued to expand in recent years, including its chicken coops and new neighborhoods (one already constructed and populated, the other in its planning stages). The settlement has been closing in on the Bedouin families from all sides, threatening to strangle them – a process backed up by intense house demolition actions carried out by the Civil Administration and the Israeli Occupation authorities.

In view of these aggressive dispossession processes, the young educated generation at Umm al Kheir, supported by groups, organizations and individuals from the outside, has been taking measures such as founding a community center and organizing this summer camp. They hope to give the local residents, especially the children, a sense of creativity and vivaciousness facing the brutal pressures constantly exerted upon them by the Occupation apparatus.

The activities of the Umm al Kheir community center in general and the summer camp in particular are supported by the
British-Jewish fund ‘British Shalom-Salaam Trust.’

Here are a few photos from the closing day of this new summer camp. The potential here is great. Indeed, the five-women team of Umm al-Kheir’s summer-camp: Naama, Sara, Ikhlas, Thaghrid and Dalal, did their best and proved once again that by working together they are capable of doing many wonderful things for their community. We hope that the next years will show that Umm al-Kheir’s summer camp will grow to become as successful and enduring as the one at Susiya.


Ehud Krinis, Erella Dunayevsky (on the right in the last image) and Efrat Nakash (who took all the pictures featured here)
Villages Group

Report From A Massafer Yatta School – South Hebron Hills 7.3.2010

In a joint initiative of the Village Group and Machsom Watch, we went this Sunday (7.3) on a tour to Massafer Yatta – the heart of the cave dwellers area in South Hebron Hills.

Our guides were Hamed from Hebron and Ezra from Taayush. As you may remember from a previous report, the Massafer villages have been under heavy pressure from the Israeli military:

  • Pressure from a lot of dirt barriers along the main passageways between the Massafer villages;
  • likewise from the unceasing pursuit of military vehicles after Palestinian employment seekers who come from the Hebron area and who move along these paths in hope of finding work in the towns of south Israel.

During our tour, the military surprisingly showed no sign of their presence, seemingly honoring  the first appearance of women from MachsomWatch in the area. This fact was well exploited by the continuous movement of employment seekers’ Subaru cars – a phenomenon that is presently a burden for the permanent residents of Massafer.

The barriers themselves were open – a sign that  the struggle led by attorney Limor Yehuda from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to keep them open is meanwhile yielding fruit. However, the dirt road used as a main passage way in this area is in rather a bad state and in some places (as can be seen in the attached photographs) is almost impassable even in a jeep.

During the tour we arrived at a primary school (grades 1-4, 42 students), that opened this year at the cave dwellers village of Fachit in the heart of the Masafer area. The photographs we took tell it all: Over and above the good intentions of the aid organizations that enabled the opening of this school (two major International organizations – Care International and the Red Cross, and a local one – Health Work Committees), the infrastructure they established: several tents, chairs and blackboards and toilets – are extremely  minimal and lacking. At the moment, about five months after the opening, weather conditions have made the place completely  unusable.

It is not an exaggeration to say that no other school in our region (i.e. the entire Middle East) operates under such difficult conditions.

And, nonetheless, students continue to arrive (although not when we were there) by means of the vehicle recently bought with donations we managed to get.

We thank Michal and Nurit from Machsom Watch South who came on the tour and hope that from now on the Massafer area will remain permanently on the map for the monitoring tours by this important organization.

Ehud Krinis

Opening Ceremony for a Playground in Salem – 9.1.2010

The opening of the playground in Salem is a landmark in a journey that began seven years ago (January 2003), when a small group of Israelis (who in time adopted the name:  the ‘Villages Group’) began regular visits to the blockaded village of Salem near Nablus.
The opening of the playground in Salem is a landmark in an ongoing journey in the prevailing reality of the years 2001-2005 in the fields of the village of  Salem, where the Israeli military prevents inhabitants from working their fields and olive orchards; where settlers from Elon Moreh and the nearby outpost settlement (‘Scally’s farm’) do as they please in the area, burning, cutting down and destroying the olive orchards of the people of Salem.
This reality made founding member of the ‘Village Group’, Uri Pinkerfeld , initiate a widespread ongoing operation under the banner: ‘rehabilitation of Salem Olive Orchards’. This operation has gone on for over two years, with the cooperation and coordination of Salem council and inhabitants and with the help of many Israeli volunteers and organizations, among them the Kibbutz Movement and ‘New Israel Fund’. As a result of their efforts, a large part of the village’s agricultural land has been restored to its owners and many plots that were badly damaged by neighboring settlers have been rehabilitated.
The opening of the playground in Salem began with a ceremony held in London two and a half years ago; a ceremony at which the British branch of the ‘New Israel Fund’  awarded Uri Pinkerfeld a prize for his initiative in rehabilitating the olive orchards of Kfar Salem. Uri decided to use the prize money to build a playground for the children of the village on a site known as the ‘little spring’.
The opening of the playground in Salem is the direct result of construction work on the site of the ‘little spring’ undertaken these past two years by a devoted team from the village, led by Ahmed Shatiya (Abu Zaki) with the ongoing support of Uri and his Israeli friends – Moti, Buma, Michal and others.
The opening ceremony of the playground on 9.1.2010 was attended by the head of the Salem Village Council, members of the village council, many inhabitants and children, and about 20 Israelis.
At the ceremony, Uri spoke the following words:
“This place is known as ‘Hadikat El-Ein – the ‘garden of the spring’ and the spring is known as ‘El-Ein El-Zarira’ – the ‘little spring’ and today it becomes a great spring. The spring garden is not only a playground it is also a symbol; a symbol of joint initiative and work and a symbol of joint resistance to the occupation. A joint struggle of Jews and Arabs in Palestine and Israel. Israel and Palestine is a common homeland for returning Jews and local Arabs . The joint struggle is very important. It is a struggle against evil and violence. A non-violent struggle of the people. May the future bring us a life of peace and goodwill together.

Blanket Collection for Gaza’s Children

Some 25,000 people sleep in Gaza UNRWA’s schools, including 9,000 children, and they need blankets.

If you have blankets you do not need  (or even clothes, toys, but mostly blankets) – Please forward to me until Wednesday (14/1/09), so we can send them to Gaza on a coordinated truck entering Thursday.

Please contact me to arrange: 054-4556052,


Thanks in advance,


Another option for overseas readers: emergency donation to Israel’s Physicians for Human Rights.