Tuesday, October 13
This is now day six (6) without a shower with temps in the 90’s and we have been in the same clothes (undies included) now for approximately 65 hours.
We left Tuwani at 8:30 a.m. for a visit to the Bedouin people in the Negev. Our van driver for the day had a very poor sense of direction, had never been to this area and spoke no English. Our leader is very specific when arranging for the van in our requirements, one being they must speak English. Anyway we knew we were in trouble when he went only about 50 yards and stopped to ask directions and continued to do this many times through out the day. The Negev is in Israel which meant we had to go through a check point on the green line. We were detained over an hour as they made us get out of the van and walk through the scanner. Then they searched the van and our luggage. Our gang was upset but I was happy it happened since this allowed us to experience what the Palestinians endure daily. We finally met Amos Gewirtz, an Israeli, who works with the Bedouins in human rights, at a convenience store. We visited a Bedouin village that has been destroyed 32 times, the most recent was ten days ago. The soldiers smashed their water tanks and the tractor used to haul their water to the small village. They now just have a tarp over them for shelter from the sun and weather elements. Of course, there is no electricity or any other infrastructure, even though the power lines run over their land. They are not permitted to have electric or erect any buildings. They expect their tarp will also be taken. At one time the village had block homes, then when these were smashed they put up metal sheets, then tents and now using what they have left, which are the tarps. We stopped at a site where bulldozers up rooted olive trees and vegetation plants on land that was owned by a Bedouin family. The family had documentation with the government stamps that showed their ownership but the army had been working there for several weeks already. The family filed suit in the high court and asks the army to wait until the decision is made but the work began anyway. Israel is planting a forest which is the easiest and quickest way to take the land. They deem it agricultural green land. Military police and soldiers where there to keep the land owners from trying to do anything. Israel has offered to buy the land from Bedouins but when the refuse to sell, Israel says it is not their land anyway. They tell the Bedouins they can move into a local city where infrastructure will be provided. But they have to move to one section which is a “ghetto” typical to what the Germans did to the Jews during the Holocaust. We visited a sheikh who told of land confiscation, and unbelievable abuse from the Israelis. Again the stories from these people are almost unbelievable and we in the United States would most likely react in violence or retribution.
Many times today we stood out in the sun with 105 degree temps to listen to the translator tell the stories. We had no potty breaks from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm but with the heat & sweating we managed. We left the Negev and headed for the Deheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and stayed at the Ibdaa Center. I sat in the back seat of the van traveling to Bethlehem and the smell was not pleasant. We all prayed there would be showers at the guest house where we stayed. Praise the Lord, there were showers and even though they were cold it was the best shower ever. We stayed there 3 nights prior to heading back to Jerusalem.