Background: In Wadi Al Jimel, a community of Palestinian Bedouin refugees from Beer Sheva is facing the threat of forced eviction, home demolitions and continuous settler violence from the nearby settlement of Maale Adumim. The community is located in Area C, under full Israeli security and administrative control. The community is at risk of forcible transfer due to a “relocation” plan located in the area advanced by the Israeli authorities. The community exists in a high security area, movement restrictions are imposed to people when transporting on bypass road, and when herders graze their animals in access restricted areas near the settlement and the wall. In 2002, the community was separated from Jerusalem area by the separation wall.
Moussa Al Sayayleh
We’ve been living here in Wadi Al Jimel since 1983. We started with a small group and we grew to the numbers you see now. We have 28 or 30 families here, each consists of six or seven persons and more in some families. We face many problems from the civil management due to the expulsion, the wall and the street that will be closed now.
The life of Bedouins here is not different from the one of Bedouins in Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Palestine. Bedouins rely on livestock and they move with them in order to raise them and to find water. Wherever it is convenient for them and their livestock, they remain there. Traveling and moving doesn’t bother them. But we have been suffering from expulsion, confiscation and settlements ever since Israel came into being and occupied the land and kicked the Bedouins out. Bedouins in Palestine now do not dare leave the place they’ve staying in for 10 or 50 years, because if they do so, they will not be able to return to it. So their life has become a sedentary one because they are obliged to stay in their own area and not to travel. The Bedouins’ life was way better before than it is now. They used to go to whichever place they wanted and live where it was suitable for their livestock and where there was water. This does not work now because Israel turned the lands into military areas or a natural reserve or they banned Bedouins from passing by or living there. Life has changed drastically.
A good part of us depends on livestock; we have around 700 sheep. Others, the youth work in the settlements, and others work in agriculture. They plant wheat and barley, in addition to vegetables in winter and summer. Our life is not perfect, but here we are standing and enduring, as there is no alternative
The latest problem came up when a person from the civil management came to us several times and took photos of our houses and gave around eight families a warning to head to the civil management. A committee would be there to process their status and give them permits, or raze the houses or have them evicted from there. So we hired a lawyer and he is working on it. The Norwegian Refugee Council assigned us a lawyer to guide us and help us solve our case.
We’re facing the problem of forced evictions and expulsion from our land. If they remove us from here, that’s our death sentence. They gave us two options to move, and both are not suitable. It would be like living in a prison, with no place to raise our livestock. They want this land to add it to their settlement. They want to pass a street through here. They want to place us in one corner and build a wall around us.
I will not leave here even if there was an agreement. We want the land to live on it and plant it, not to build a villa. Having caravans is enough for us. We used to live in a Bedouin tent which is good for us. Let us keep the land without court trials, expulsion and demolition. If they come and raze my house, I am ready to set up a tent, but I will not go where they want to force me to go. I would rather die here than go there. We are not afraid.
Photo and story: Karl Schembri/NRC
1 May, 2017