Background: A small community of farmers living in Jourat Al Khiel, which falls in Area C, already once displaced from their land nearby, has been facing continuous settler violence and the threat of destruction of their homes. Their worst fears came to reality last August when Israeli soldiers turned up with bulldozers early in the morning and destroyed their homes, water wells and sheds for their livestock. NRC is assisting the community with legal aid, representing them in Israeli courts, in a bid to stop further property destruction and displacement of this vulnerable community.
Ibrahim Mustafa Al Shalaldeh
We used to live in Sarara, which they call Asfar. We had water wells, caves and shelter for summer and winter. The Israelis came in the ‘80s and kicked us out, so we moved here. We didn’t have water, shelter or anything here. We started building here, building our water wells, planting trees, and made the land a productive one. It was good to live here, we drank from the wells, until the day the Jews gave us an order to stop building. We hired a lawyer who proceeded with the case, but he didn’t tell us that they would raze the structures to the gruond. All of a sudden we saw them coming to demolish the houses. This happened in August 2016. They razed our houses. One month and a half later, they came to destroy the water wells. I told them: “Birds and dogs drink from them. Every living creature drinks from them. Why do you want to destroy the water wells?” They replied: “We have an order to demolish them.”
I used to have shelter for the livestock of 270 metres. We had a pigeon shed that was razed. We had a small room for rabbits and they razed it too, with the rabbits and pigeons inside them. What can you say except that they want everyone to be dead except for them. They don’t wish life for other people. We used to have olive trees here, but they got destroyed by the bulldozer.
We don’t have any other land except this one. Where shall we go now? If we had another piece of land, we would have moved to it, but we don’t. If they kick us out, we will stay on other people’s lands and pay them rent.
They used to come to us at night around midnight and take us out. It was freezing cold. They would make us sit outside and they start searching inside the house. They would dump all our clothes on top of each other. They would undress us and search in our clothes under the rain claiming our clothes could contain something dangerous.
A month ago they came to give us a warning letter telling us not to build anything. We can’t build a thing because they’ll demolish everything. But we are going to stay here and God will help us survive.
Photo and story: Karl Schembri/NRC
1 May, 2017