Tag Archives: Hebron

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

A Student From South Mt. Hebron Tortured for Hours by IDF Soldiers

Dear friends and supporters,

Musab Musa Raba’i is one of 5 students from the village of al-Tuwani and 15 students from the south Mt. region, that are supported in their academic studies by the Villages Group and the American NGO US-Omen.

The Fact that the life of the students in south Mt. Hebron is somewhat different and harder than the life of students in Cambridge and Edinburgh (and even from the life of students from Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv) is demonstrated in a very cruel way by the happening that took place in al-Tuwani last week (documented in the report below by the devoted volunteers of the CPT).

In the photo in the center below you can see Musab (second to the left in a white shirt) in a better day, posing with the other 4 al-Tuwani’s students- Majdi, Ahmad, Sausan and Gamila (also present in this photo are Hafez from al-Tuwani, US-Omen’s Liz Mulford and me). The two other photos show the results of his recent torture by soldiers while under custody. CPT report follows.

Ehud Krinis, Villages Group

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AT-TUWANI RELEASE: Shepherd tortured for five hours by Israeli soldiers and police
10 January 2010

On 7 January 2009, soldiers detained Musab Musa Raba’i after attacking him and members of his family as they were complying with the soldiers’ order to move their flocks off their family-owned land.

The same eight soldiers who arrested Raba’i and attacked his family took him to a military base at the nearby Suseya settlement. For four hours soldiers struck him in the back, in the face, and slammed him into walls.

The soldiers questioned him about his brothers. Raba’i refused to give any information and refused to speak Hebrew with the soldiers, which infuriated them. The soldiers told him that they would come to his house in the following days and beat or kill him and his brothers. They tried to force him to say that they were the best soldiers in the IDF and beat him when he would not. Raba’i told CPTers his hands and feet were tied, he was blindfolded, and was sitting in a chair. Raba’i put his head in his lap, in an attempt to protect his head and his genitals, and refused to lift it.

He said that at one point a soldier cocked his rifle and told him to lift his head or he would shoot him. Raba’i refused. When another soldier tried to bring him food and water, as the military is legally obligated to do in such situations, the soldiers who were torturing him swore at the soldier and told him to leave. The soldiers also refused to allow Raba’i to pray.

After four hours of this interrogation and torture, they took Raba’i to the Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba settlement. The Israeli police told him that they usually offer detainees food and water, but said they were giving him nothing because they wanted to punish him. The policemen told Raba’i that if they ever saw his face again they would kill him. After thirty minutes, the police tied his hands and feet, blindfolded him, drove him to a location unknown to him and threw him out of the jeep.

Raba’i was able to call his family, who, accompanied by CPTers, found him and brought him home. Fearing that soldiers or settlers may see him, he hid in a bush until he saw his family’s car.

For more  photos of Raba’i injuries see here.

New Demolition Threats in Umm al-Kheir

In the middle of last week – Wednesday Nov. 12 – the soldiers from the occupation civil administration appeared again in the two Umm al-Kheir clusters, next to the settlement of Carmel in south Mt. Hebron. In their old tradition of “civil service”, they distributed 11 orders of halting constructing work – the legalistic act which precedes house demolition.

As the people of those two clusters of Umm al-Kheir, don’t have much of construction work left – most of their constructed houses were demolished in the many rounds of house demolition that were inflicted on them by the civil administration (see also here the 2007 demolition, in which Ezra Nawi was charged while trying to stop it)– the current halt-construction orders were addressed mostly to tents (donation of the Red Cross form the last round of demolitions), tin shacks, an outhouse and a toilet hole, along with three built houses located in the farthest spot form the settlement.

This indiscriminate mode of operation reveals the real end of the civil administration acts – to make the life of the local residents (who had lived there for 30 years before the establishment of the Israeli settlement in the 1980’s) so unbearable, so they would leave there dwellings out of their “free will”.

Ehud Krinis

COMET-ME Alternative-Energy Project is BBC/Newsweek World Challenge Finalist

COMET-ME, our sister project which has developed out of Villages Group activities, has won prestigious global recognition from the BBC/Newsweek World Challenge 2009 competition.

The judges have chosen COMET-ME as one of 12 finalists. The project, which empowers rural and semi-nomadic Palestinian residents (right now, mostly in South Hebron Hills) by helping them set up independent wind+solar electricity generation units, and training them in installation and maintenance, will be featured in an upcoming BBC story.

The Independent has recently devoted an article to the project, apparently in view of their World Challenge recognition. Here is an excerpt:

For the extended Shineran family, dependent for income on the butter they sell, the electric churn and the large energy-efficient refrigerator they now run off the new system, have together raised sales income from £850 per month to £1,450.

We congratulate COMET-ME, its founder Noam Dotan and all the project’s volunteers, for a well-deserved success. We hope that it continues to grow.
Link to COMET-ME Donation Page.

Destruction of Palestinian Well in Umm al-Kheir

Israeli heavy machinery at work  today (19.3.09), destroying a local Palestinian well belongs to the residents of Umm al-Kheir.
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The machine is creating a new road; possibly a patrol road, around the new neighborhood settlement of Carmel in south Mt. Hebron.
The Bedouin families of Umm al-Kheir- refugees of the 1948 war, who have lived in this place for more then 55 years, are finding themselves more and more uncomfortable with their newer and very close neighbors from Carmel.
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The Israeli government declared much of Umm al-Kheir lands as ‘state lands’, leaving it for the exclusive use of the settlers, who are step by step
closing on some 100 people who live by their side. The new road is the latest in this series of strangulation measures.
Ehud Krinis
Villages Group

South Mt. Hebron Students- Middle of the Year Report

Dear friends and supporters,

As we near the end of the school year’s first semester and registration for its second semester, we met the South Hebron Hills students whom we assist in their academic studies. We are currently supporting fourteen students from five localities in this area: Susya, Mufaqara, Tuba, Tuwane and Um Al Kheir. Our conversations with the students were instructive regarding their progress, the subjects they are engaged in and their general satisfaction from their work. The assistance received from the donors, headed by the American US Omen organization, enables these students – who have previously only been able to participate in a small number of academic courses each semester and sometimes even forced to disrupt their studies – to now register for courses of a sufficient scope to complete their degree within a reasonable period of four-five years. Most of the students whom we support are either at the beginning or middle phases of their studies. Three of them are more advanced, and we hope they will manage to complete their studies in the current school year, or the next one. Thirteen of the fourteen students are studying at the Jerusalem Open University (Al Quds al Maftuha) Yatta Extension, the nearest university to their villages and the least expensive in tuition. Another student studies at Al Aroub College.

The fields of study are varied and vast: Geography, English, economics, accounting, mathematics, Arabic, religion, computers, social work, life science and social science. In our conversations with them, the students expressed their satisfaction with their own studies, their grattitude to the donors abroad and to us, and their hope that we shall be able to maintain this assistance until they successfully complete their course of studies. We wish the students succes in their term final exminations and a fruitful continuation of their academic pursuit.

Ehud Krinis

The Villages Group

Renewable Energy Project in Susya-Documentary Trailer

South Hebron: Update about Road Blockades by the Military

Continuing Yesterday’s post, a team from the Israeli-Palestinian NGO Ta’ayush managed, after great difficulties, to reach the Jinba area. They report that the military has carried out in the last few days a massive earth-removal initiative, designed to effectively wipe out the network of dirt roads connecting the southern part of Massafer Yatta (the part closest to Israel) with the northern part and the rest of the West Bank.

This is the worst deterioration in the situation of the cave dweller community, since the mass expulsions of 1999. They fly in the face of the 2000 Israeli High Court verdict reaffirming the cave dwellers’ right to continue their way of life. The most plausible conclusion that this is a transparent attempt to ethnically cleanse this region of its Palestinians, in order to facilitate the annexation of the Jewish settlements to its north to Israel.

Action: Please petition

Israel’s Ministry of Defense, currently under Ehud Barak.

Phone: +972 3 6975349 Fax: +972 3 6976218 /691 6940 / 696 2757 / 691 7915/
Email: sar@mod.gov.il; pniot@mod.gov.il

IDF Chief of Staff, General Gavriel Ashkenazi

Phone: +972 3 6109898 / 6080200/19 Fax: + 972 3 691 6940 / 608 0343
Email: info@mail.idf.il

IDF Chief Military Attorney, Lt. General Avichai Mandelblit

Fax: +972-3-569-43-70 (may be out of date)

Point out that the right of cave dwellers to continue living in their historical range has been reaffirmed several times over by the Court; that this requires their continued contact with their main city of Yatta to the north; that recent military moves appear to be in contempt of these decisions.

Please post a comment if you’ve written any of them

South Hebron: Israeli army blocking roads to cave dwellers area, preventing water supply

Dear Friends,

As you know if you visit this site, the main cave dwellers area in South Hebron region, known as Massafer Yatta by its residents, or Military Zone 918 in the Army lexicon, is suffering for years now under the hands of the Israeli occupation forces.

Defeated in the legal arena, after the high court of Israel approved (at least temporarily) the legal status of the cave dwellers communities, the Israeli army is fighting a ‘dirty war’ against these communities. After one of these dirty tricks – the erecting of a small concrete wall on the main road between Yatta and its Massafer (road 317) – was also abolished by the high court of justice, the army is working now inside the Massafer area, creating many roadblocks on its dirt roads, making the everyday life of its local Palestinian residents impossible.

The linked Powerpoint report was made by an Italian organization UCODEP, which is now supplying water tanks to cave dweller communities, saving their herds from dying, after the harsh drought of last year. As shown in the attached maps and photos, the army has created roadblocks that by now prevent the UCODEP water tanks from reaching the southern cave dwellers communities of Jinba, Mirkez and Halaweh, leaving these desert communities without water supply, after the long summer, while no rain is in sight.

Umm al-Kheir Home Demolitions 29.10.2008

For nearly sixty years, several Beduin families of the Hazlin-Jahalin tribe have been living in Umm al Kheir, near Carmel colony (Jewish settlement). These are refugees of the 1948 war, originally from the vicinity of Arad.
Over twenty-five years ago, the Carmel colony was built adjacent to the farming plots of some of the Hazalin families. Ever since, the Occupation authorities have prevented the families – who found themselves living right next to the colony – from building or permanently developing any further necessary structures beyond the meager housing they already had. Over the years, a considerable part of these families’ privately-owned land was confiscated in favor of the colony, and demolition of both houses and temporary dwellings takes place on a regular basis. Previously, the last demolition took place in February 2007.

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Now, on Wednesday October 29th, 2008, another massive demolition of homes was carried out. The greatest damage was done to the families located in the southern cluster, next to the new expansion of Carmel colony. Here four shacks were demolished as well as two stone houses of Hajj Salam Hazalin, that had served as dwelling for twenty-four persons.
In the heat of its action, the bulldozer also demolished an old stone house dating back to the Jordanian rule of the area, a house for which no demolition order had been issued.

Another house demolished nearby  is that of Suleiman and Maliha Hazalin which was home to ten persons. Apparently this demolition action focused on the dwellings closest to Carmel’s new neighborhood whose residents, recently moved in, complain of noise and messiness on the part of the Beduins (a-la ‘not in my back yard’). Beside the massive demolition in teh southern cluster, demolition on a smaller scale has also taken place in the northern cluster of the Hazalin families next to Carmel’s fence. Here the tin shack of Salam Mohammad was demolished, that had housed ten persons, as well as his brother Ali’s new stone house where he resided with his wife and baby-daughter.

Umm-Al-Kheir resident and his ruined home. In the background the Carmel settlement

Umm-Al-Kheir resident and his ruined home. In the background the Carmel settlement

The demolition operation took place in the morning, in the presence of heavy army and police forces, while the only residents present were the elderly, women and small children. The older children were at school, a few hundred meters away. Sagher, Salam Mohammad’s nine-year-old son, told us that as he came out of the school house for a moment, he looked over to his home and went back in to report to his teacher that sicne his home had disappeared suddenly, (the tin shack that was demolished), he needed to get back to his home immediately. We arrived at Umm al Kheir only that afternoon. We brought with us two tents which we had purchased at a discount (courtesy of the shop owner) in the Beduin town of Rahat near our residence. Earlier still, Red Cross staff arrived and provided the residents who had remained homeless in the early winter rains and cold, tents, mattresses, cooking gas tanks, etc.
Extensive damage was dealt to the meager belongings of the residents, and they need urgent material and financial help. Furthermore, legal aid is needed for – among other things – filing a damages charge following the unlawful demolition of the above-mentioned stone building. In these matters, please contact the undersigned at ksehud@gmail.com .
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Ehud Krinis