Hughmalala

10.05.18 | South Hebron Hills, Shib al Butum. | Jabareen children

Living in Area C

There are seven children in this family. They live in a small, isolated valley where they graze sheep and goats, and dig the land. Their parents are slim and muscular from hard, dirty work. Their mother can sit calmly and contentedly while her children climb the walls (literally) and push the two-year-old around the concrete-floored kitchen on a broken office chair. They share every moment with each other; They eat together, play together, work together, and collapse together, exhausted, under the pile of blankets in the corner of the bare room at night. A kitten sleeps on the four year-old’s face. The settlement looms on the nearby hilltop, the sound of construction chatters in the night. The diggers work by floodlight. I asked the father how the children were since the bad news; “They’re kids, they won’t know anything bad is happening until it’s happening.” Last week, the army came to the father with a document written in Hebrew. The officer told him; “Demolish the home now, or we will charge you for the cost of the army demolishing.” They are a poor family. The father is looking up at his roof, thinking about how he will start the job. He can salvage the materials. And he can’t afford whatever fee the army will charge him for the demolition. We photographed the army documents and asked around for advice. The army officer was lying: He was trying to trick the father into demolishing his own home. The document served was a Stop Work Order, usually a precursor to a demolition order but still no demolition order. They at least had a court date. We returned with the good news. The father didn’t care. His wife was already preparing the tent they would live in. I passed over the phone so he could hear from the UN what he refused to believe from me. Still, he didn’t care; “Call Mahmoud Abbas, it does not matter. They want to do it, so they will do it.”

31.05.18 – South Hebron Hills, Shib al Butum.

31.05.18 – South Hebron Hills, Shib al Butum.
The family live in Area C, an area comprising of about 61% of the West Bank – territory designated by the Oslo Accords as being under total Israeli control. According to the agreement, this control was to be temporary. The territory was to be passed over to the Palestinian Authority within five years. This never happened. Instead, Israel has retained control of the area and implemented an aggressive policy of settlement and displacement. The number of Israeli settlers in Area C has more than tripled since the Oslo Accords, now outnumbering Palestinians. Palestinians who live in Area C are not allowed to build and are subject to daily pressure in an effort to force them to move to Areas A and B, where the greatest concentrations of Palestinians live, and where the Palestinian Authority has a modicum of control. Settlers living in Area C are protected by Israeli law, pay (heavily subsidised) taxes to the state, and drive on their own segregated roads lined with Israeli flags. This de-facto annexation is only awaiting the official stamp, and will receive it once the number of Palestinian residents has been sufficiently reduced – the Jewish State must preserve its demographic integrity, or else how is it a Jewish State? Israel wants the land but not the people. And so these children have got to go. The fact that this family have been living on the same spot since the Ottoman Era is irrelevant.

27.06.18 – South Hebron Hills, Shib al Butum. The children clean the family cistern.

27.06.18 – South Hebron Hills, Shib al Butum. The children clean the family cistern.
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