by Jenn, Jayyus team
Cranes dot the skyline of an East Jerusalem that is growing. It is growing upwards and it is growing outwards. For some. For others, their boundaries are set, and they are shrinking. It is a simple formula, settlement expansion for the Israeli population is equal to demolitions and displacement of the Palestinian population. In no place is this formula more stark than in the E1 one area and the space surrounding the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim located in the Jerusalem periphery.
The E1 area is located North-East of Jerusalem and to the west of Ma’ale Adumim. Ma’ale Adumim is the third largest settlement in the West Bank and is home to almost 40,000 Israeli settlers. There are currently about 27,000 Bedouin refugees in the Jerusalem Area. 3,000 of which live in the Ma’ale Adumim area and 1,700 of these which lie in the E1 area. The expansion of Ma’ale Adumim and the plan for future Israeli construction in E1 threatens existing populations in the surrounding areas, but none more so than the Jahalin Bedouin community.
The year 2013, saw the rise of a new trend: that of demolishing whole communities and thus, displacing all their inhabits. Last year, four whole communities were entirely demolished: Bir Nabala/Tel al Adassa, Az Za’ayyem, Makhul, and Ein Ayoub. In total, 189 people were left without access to land.
This photo essay will focus on the Jahalin of Az Za’ayyem. Az Za’ayyem is home to ten Jahalin Bedouin families and is located in the E1 area. In September of 2013, 8 homes in Az Za’ayyem were demolished as well as several kitchen units, sanitary units and animal shelters. 47 people were displaced, 20 of whom were children. Now, 4 months later, the town has yet to rebuild. Heaps of rubble, that were once homes, are piled around the wooden and sheet metal structures that are now the remaining homes of the Jahalin of Az Za’ayyem.
Unfortunately, whole communities facing displacement, demolitions and forced evictions is not a unique situation in Palestine. But in this case the very way of life of the Jahalin is threatened. Semi-Nomadic herders, the Bedouin require open spaces and adequate pasture land for their flocks to flourish. The Jahalin are a people that value freedom and movement. As it stands many have been forced to sell their animals and resort to work in nearby settlements in order to feed their families and maintain a living. Any suggested compensation for the displacement by the Israeli authorities, amounting to a small patch of land and minimal infrastructure in the Jericho region, is nothing more than an affront to their way of life.
“We must always remember that settlement expansion is a problem, but not just in itself, but because expansion comes at the expense of the people, the families and entire communities that are displaced or made homeless.” ~Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, Israeli human rights activist
In the case of the Jahalin and other Bedouin communities, continued expansion of Israeli settlements not only leave them homeless, but also threatens their livelihood and their very way of life.