Demolishing homes, destroying hopes…

by EAs Veronika and Gordon, South Hebron Hills team, 

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13.01.16 South Hebron Hills, Khirbet Ar Rahwa destroyed Samamri home Photo EAPPI

It is Wednesday, 13 January 2016, 12 o’clock, lunchtime in Khirbet Ar Rahwa, about 15 km southeast Yatta (South of Hebron), only 1 km distant from Checkpoint Meitar in the south of the Green Line. The living tent and sheep shelter of the family of Raje Barhan Samamri have just been destroyed, following a “Demolition Order” from the Israeli DCO (District Coordination Office) which administers Area C on the Palestinian West Bank on behalf of the Israeli army.

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13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa sheep next to demolished structures Photo EAPPI

The place in the midst of the beautiful winter sunshine of South Hebron hills looks as if a hurricane has just passed. The sheep does not seem to understand why its familiar area is devastated, and the little lamb, frightened, keeps close to its mother sheep. What has happened?!

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13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa belongings gathered before and after the demolition. Photo EAPPI

The midday sun mercilessly shines over the scene of destruction. Personal belongings, basic kitchen items and tools, TV (very important in this remote area!) are spread on the ground, as if no one had ever cared about them, as if they had never been used or would never be used again.

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa mother

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa mother salvages belongings from the rubble of her home. Photo EAPPI

The wife and mother fiercely fight against tears, giving no space to her feelings of distress. She starts sorting things out, looking for what could be recuperated, repaired, used again in a new home yet to be built…

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13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa EA joins in a discussion with the men of the village after the demolition .Photo EAPPI

The men have gathered apart. They examine the Demolition Order document, comment on the destruction process, trying to think ahead. What do they feel? Anger? Helplessness? Resignation?

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa vase

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa vase Photo EAPPI

A plastic vase has been saved from the destruction. When the time for prayer comes the father washes his hands, kneels down on the barren rock, turns to Mecca and says the traditional Muslim prayer.

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa toy

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa Childs toy next to demolished home. Photo EAPPI

The young boy whose toy is on the ground smiles at us, amazed at our attention on this insignificant object. We wonder how many toys will be destroyed before justice and peace will again blossom in Palestine.

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa final scene

13.01.16 Khirbet Ar Rahwa final scene Photo EAPPI

The Israeli bulldozer has left the scene. It has done its job, quickly and efficiently. The demolition has not taken more than a couple of minutes. But the harm it has caused and the memories it has created will never be forgotten.

*All the photos in this blog were taken by the South Hebron Hills team

More information:

UNOCHA:  Demolition Orders In Area C of the West Bank 

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