By EA Maria, South Hebron Hills team.
On the 13th of May 2016, Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) responded to a request for protective presence from Palestinian farmers living in Al Simeri, Shi’b al Butum in the hills south of Hebron. Mahmood Yosif Jabareen, his brothers – Hamad, Ali, Khalil and Yosif – and two nephews were planning to plough one of their fields. However, the 13th of May was no ordinary day in the fields for the Jabareen family. The 13th of May was the first time in sixteen years that the Israeli courts granted them unhindered access to their land.
Hamad told us: “this story is very good for me, because we come to the land…”
Mahmood told us the background of their case with the help of an interpreter: 20 years ago there was an Israeli military base set up on the hill, which then became the unauthorised Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Yair. Such settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under Israeli and international law. For the last 16 years, whenever the farmers came to prepare the land for cultivation or graze their animals, settlers would come and harass them. Even when the Israeli army came to protect the farmers, settlers would come and force them off their land. Twelve years ago, Rabbis for Human Rights
started to support Mahmood’s case, and, with their help and persistence, this day has finally come.
Hopefully another day can be coordinated with the District Commissioner’s office soon, so that wheat can be sown again.