“The sky will be my blanket and the earth my bed”; what Bedouins’ face

  by EA Alex, Yanoun team. 

“I have nowhere else to go. says Ali Z, 39 year old father and resident of Ein Ar Rashash “If my home is demolished the sky will be my blanket and the earth my bed.  I must stay” 

Ein ar Rashash is a Bedouin village in Nablus in the northern West Bank. This community faces imminent demolition after a decision made by the Israeli Military court on Thursday (28th January), which gave the community until 6am on the first of February to demolish their homes and evacuate the area. The first of February just passed and the residents of the village did not carry out self-demolitions nor did the evacuate the area. They do however live with the knowledge that their homes and livelihoods could be destroyed at any moment. 

29.1.16, Imminent Bedouin demolition threat at Ein Ar Rashash Bedouin Community, Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

29.1.16, Imminent Bedouin demolition threat at Ein Ar Rashash Bedouin Community, Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

It was still dark when we (EAs) arrived, no chirping of birds just the twinkling stars, cheerfully fading as the night turned to day. It was a quarter past six in the morning. Fifteen minutes into new kind of fear. For the Bedouin community at Ein ar Rashash this was 15 minutes into the dawn of a new reality: the threat of imminent demolition.

Parking the car, we were greeted with the usual hospitality, coffee and sweet tea to beat the band. We enjoyed the hospitality and were thankful for the repeated acts of gentle generosity that one becomes accustomed to here, but never expects.

By now the tent was full. Locals from the nearby villages of Duma, Qaryut, Qusra and Jalud came to offer support in whatever way they could. Their presence, much like ours, being the greatest source of comfort they could offer.

We spoke with the community, men and women young and old. Although smiling and happy to see that we were here with them in such a desperate hour, the faces of those we met bore the anguish only that can only be seen on the face of a father worried for the safety of his family. Or a mother fearful of what demolition and a cold winter will mean for her and her infant son.

01.02.16, Nablus, Suleiman S, resident of Ein Ar Rashash Bedouin community facing imminent demolition, Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

01.02.16, Nablus, Suleiman S, resident of Ein Ar Rashash Bedouin community facing imminent demolition, Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

This village is home to 112 people, over half of them children, they have lived in the area since 1990. Displaced from the Negev in 1948, these families have moved from Hebron to Jerusalem and Jericho to Nablus. A generation forcibly transferred. A history that seems destined only to repeat itself.

Served with a stop work order in 2009, the community has since then been fighting the legal case to stay on the land. However, in November of last year, demolition orders were placed under stones close to the homes of the residents of Ein ar Rashash. The demolition orders, stated that the community is located within a closed military zone. These demolition orders were subsequently fought, and lost, in the military court activating the demolition orders against the homes and livelihood structures of the people of Ein ar Rashash.

One of our most gracious hosts, Sulieman, sat with us and drank tea, ensuring our comfort ahead of the stark issue he was facing. In a quiet moment we got to speak.

“What will this demolition order mean for you and your family?” I asked afraid of the answer. – EA Alex

Suleiman replied. “I will be destroyed, both my life and my families lives will be over. Even if we find another place, they (Israeli Army) will follow us again

These developments raise concerns that this community, of 60 adults and 50 children, is at imminent risk of forced displacement. 

01.02.15, Nablus. Bedouin boy at Ein Ar Rashash village facing imminent demolition Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

01.02.15, Nablus. Bedouin boy at Ein Ar Rashash village facing imminent demolition Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne

The village is situated in a valley below and Israeli military camp and an Israeli hiking trail passes right through the village. Also nearby are the Israeli settlements of Ma’ale Efrayim, Shilo, and Petza’el. Residents of Ein ar Rashash said that in 2015 settlers began building structures near their village. This has prompted suspicions in the community that if they evacuate the area that the land would be used for settlements.

Like most Bedouin communities these villagers main source of income comes from herding. Collectively the families living here own approximately 1000 sheep. The pending demolition orders threaten not only the homes of these residents but also their livestock shelters. Without proper housing the flocks would be left vulnerable and exposed to the elements; a fact that would undermine these vulnerable families main source of income.

BEDOUIN COMMUNITIES AT RISK OF FORCIBLE TRANSFER

UNOCHA 2014

UNOCHA 2014

Notably, Ein ar Rashar is listed among the 46 Bedouin and herding communities in the central West Bank who are at risk of forcible transfer due to the “relocation” plan advanced by the Government of Israel. All of the Palestinian Bedouin communities slated for transfer are located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel maintains full civil and military control.

OCHA has identified that Israel’s house demolition policy is creating a ‘coercive environment’ that impels vulnerable Bedouin and herding communities communities to relocate to Areas A and B. See map here.

The planned demolition and transfer of the inhabitants of the Bedouin village of Ein ar Rashash is prohibited according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered to be a grave breach of international humanitarian law according to Article 147 of the Convention.

Please take action today to halt the demolition of Ein ar Rashash Bedouin village and the forced displacement of its residents. 

Take action box 2

  • Contact your elected representatives and your foreign minister to raise this issue with the Government of Israel to express (Country) condemnation of the plan to demolish the village of Ein Ar Rashash and expel its residents.
  • Ask your country’s diplomatic representatives to urge the Government of Israel to freeze all pending demolition orders against Ein ar Rashash and call on them to condemn these potential breeches of international law.
  • Share Ein Ar Rashash’s story and update media agencies in your countries about the Government of Israelis plans to forcibly transfer thousands of Palestinian Bedouins out of their communities in the central part of the occupied West Bank and into a designated township.

More information:

OCHA factsheet : Bedouin Communities at Risk of Forcible Transfer, September 2014

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