Friday, November 6, 2009

Sunday, October 11

We left for At-Tuwani, a village in the south Hebron Hills arriving about 10:00 a.m. We left our things in the village then continued on to an Israeli settlement where there was green grass growing & many flowers blooming. When we asked how they were able to do this with the water shortage and severe drought, the settler we spoke with said it was “gray water” which was a half truth. This settlement as with all others, diverts the water from the Palestinian villages in a number of ways for themselves leaving little water for the villages. This settler had been a youth minister and then an evangelical pastor as was his father and grandfather. Two years ago he found out he had Jewish roots through his mother so he converted to Judaism and moved to the West Bank to this settlement with his wife and 2 children. His parents and siblings are still Christian. He believes it is the Jews “Holy Obligation” to live here and that God will not bless them unless they live the “Holy Land”. “Jews should live no other place on earth”. He feels this is the “only place they can defend themselves because God will protect them here”. “If they obey God and live here then there will be peace.” He feels “it is very important to live by the laws of the Torah, because in doing this he feels the love of God more now then ever.” He reiterated the statements made by the state of Israel that there were no “Arabs” only Jewish refugees living in any of the West Bank & Israel prior to 1947 so they moved in to live in this land and create a state. This is a falsehood generated by Israel as there were thousands and thousands of Palestinians living here. Israelis will not refer to them as Palestinians but will only call them “Arabs”. According to the settler they try to live at peace with their neighbors, the Bedouins. He feels they need protection from their neighbors, however, when we visited these neighbors a very different story is told. The settler feels to make the settlers leave their home now would be very cruel and unfair. We did not ask him the question each of us was thinking, “What about all the land and homes that have been confiscated from the Palestinians or demolished homes?” The settlers hire “Arabs” to build their homes because that “gives them work”. Fortunately we did not visit the neighbors until after the settlement visit or we may have asked questions that would not have been as pleasing to the settler. We did know the history of all settlements but not the neighbors.

In 1950, after the war in 1947, this Bedouin village moved to it’s present location since their original village was on the Green Line. (This is the dividing line between the West Bank & Israel) Then in 1982 the settlement moved the caravans (trailers that look like construction trailers) into the area which is very close to the village. In 1986 the Israel government said it was now an archeological site and they were no longer permitted to live there. Walls were put up around the area so each individual village family moved to their own smaller area. The settlement then moved into the archeological area and around the villagers slowly squeezing them in. In 1989 all the men’s feet and hands were tied together by the soldiers and they then came past them & a soldier shot and killed one of the men. This soldier was prosecuted but only spent 5-6 months in jail. In 1990 the settlers increased their violence against the villagers. They killed 20 sheep and when the men from the village went to talk with the settlers they shot one of the village men. They reported this murder to the authorities but they don’t know if he was ever prosecuted. The abuse got worse, their land was again confiscated so they became involved with a human rights organization that got them an attorney who went to court with them and won the land they now live on. However, their tents are under a demolition order because they were denied a building permit for their tents, so the abuse continues. Due to the water restrictions placed on them they shepherd only half of the livestock they previously did which greatly reduces their income.

That afternoon all but another lady and I went to Tuba for the night. Most of villagers there live in caves; however, in the summer they sleep on mates on top the cave. I would have loved to gone along but due to foot problem the leader thought I should not try it as it is an hour hike over rather treacherous terrain. We stayed in a room of the Operation Dove apartment in the home of Hofez who is leader in the village. It was great learning about Operation Dove and their humanitarian work in the area. They are based in Italy but place people in areas of conflict to also be a peace presence. They work together with CPT in this village.

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