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.
Ahmed Mohamed Mustafa Al Shalaldeh
We grew up on the land over there called Al Sarara. In 1983 they (the Israelis) started building on it. They said it’s a military camp and it will not include any settlers. Then they kicked us out and we came here.
At first we set up tents. We couldn’t build as we were afraid to do so. We lived in tents for 15 years. Then we built some rooms. We built houses that included two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. We need to live. We don’t have electricity or water.
In 2014 they distributed leaflets, then they served us eviction notices. They asked us to apply for permits, which we did through our lawyer. In August 2016, at 5.30am, they came with bulldozers. We asked them what was going on, they told us to get out of the house. We told them we had applied for permits and had the documents needed, but they said they were not aware of our documents and that they had orders to take down our buildings. We told them we needed to get our clothes, but they said they’d get them for us. They brought us some clothes and demolished our houses with all the other belongings inside. They demolished seven houses.
People were displaced for four months. They had no tents or shelter. Some moved to the village and others set up some kind of shelter. Then we were given these caravans by aid groups.
We’d love to live in peace. This land belongs to us. We are living off of it. We have livestock and we farm our land and we live off what we grow. When settlers came here we offered them food and water. We don’t know what brought them here but we showed them respect. Why? Because we want to live in peace, we don’t want violence. Yet they assault us while we’re herding our sheep and round people up. Once they caught my brother and they tied his hands and forced him to sit in the sun for 10 hours.
We’re very upset now. If you and your children had to sleep in one room, that is not normal. We wanted to build another room for the children, but they told us to be patient or we’d get everything demolished again. If one cannot build on their property, why would they need it? Even if they demolished our homes 10, 20, 100 times, we will stay here. We will not leave this place. There is no place to go to.
We hope the world and the European countries to open their eyes to the living conditions of the Palestinian people. We’re living in humiliation and disrespect. We don’t have dignity here.
We wish to live in a dignified life in peace.
Photo and story: Karl Schembri/NRC
1 May, 2017