Unsettled life

Wadi al-Hussein is a neighborhood in Hebron adjacent to the Kiryat Arba settlement.  Meet 2 of its residents who show that settler violence and fear dominate their daily lives.

by Anssi, Hebron team

Photo of Wadi al Hussein

A view of Wadi al Hussein. Photo EAPPI.

Kayed’s Story

Meet Kayed, a 50-year-old Palestinian man who lives in Wadi-al-Hussein with his family right next to the wall surrounding Kiryat Arba, the biggest Israeli settlement in Hebron. One can see endless fatigue on Kayed’s face after being stuck in his yard for years since he is forced to protect his home and family against unpredictable settlers nearly around the clock.

“I am able to go to downtown once or twice a month. I practically do not have leisure time. On Friday I go to prayers worrying about my house and family. There is no psychological relief.”

Even though Kayed owns his house and land, the Israeli occupation practically reduces his rights to his property. According to Kayed, he must stay two meters away from the wall of Kiryat Arba. Passing too close to the wall would make the Israeli army intrude into his yard, considering him a threat to the settlers. Kayed tells us that one Friday three settlers invaded his house without any consequences.

“If I had done the same in Kiryat Arba they would have killed me at once”, Kayed states.

Photo Kayed's house close to Kiryat Arba.

Kayed’s house on the right is located adjacent to Kiryat Arba settlement, behind the wall on the right. Photo EAPPI/A. Holmstrom.

Moreover, his everyday life is comprised of settlers throwing stones, garbage, and sewage into his yard. He reminds us that settlers in Kiryat Arba live there for religious and ideological reasons, not simply economic reasons.

Kayed lives in his house with his wife and 10 children. The house belonged to his family long before the 1970s when Kiryat Arba was established. Kayed has seen both Palestinian intifadas, and his adult life has been underscored by movement restrictions and settler violence that Israeli soldiers often cannot and will not control. Therefore, it may not be a surprise that he seems highly pessimistic concerning the future. However, he strongly believes that liberation is coming soon:

“[Prime Minister] Netanyahu thinks he has control over Israel and Palestine. This attitude will turn against him very soon.”

Jamal’s story

Photo of Jamal

Jamal, age 50, and his family live in Wadi al-Hussein next to Kiryat Arba settlement. They face settler violence on a daily basis. Photo EAPPI/A. Holmstrom.

Meet Jamal, a 50-year-old man whose family suffers the same problems as Kayed. Jamal’s house is situated in Wadi al-Hussein right behind a religious settler school in Kiryat Arba where kids learn at an early age the legitimacy of harassing Palestinians.

“If you love God throw a stone”, has been written, according to Jamal, on the school wall.

The results are apparent. Jamal says settlers from Kiryat Arba throw things, such as eggs and stones, at him and his family on a daily basis. In practice, the family’s options to defend themselves are minimal:

“If you throw a stone back they will put us in jail”, Jamal says.

He also criticizes the Israeli police who do nothing to protect them. He tells us about an incident where settlers burnt his father’s house with a Molotov cocktail. Police arrived at the house after the fire had been extinguished but could not do anything because they did not see the fire itself.

Jamal has stopped expecting sympathy from the Palestinian Authority as well. He says that the presence of municipality administration in Wadi al-Hussein is non-existent and rather than protection, the family receives insults from decision-makers.

“We are in the frontline. We should not go to them, they should come to us!” Jamal raises his voice. “We [through our persistence in staying on our land] stop the settlements from expanding!”

Kiryat Arba settlement as seen from Jamal's house. Photo EAPPI/A. Holmstrom.

Kiryat Arba settlement as seen from Jamal’s house. Photo EAPPI/A. Holmstrom.

Apart from security issues the family also confronts problems with the municipality regarding water supply. The family receives water irregularly twice a month. However, when water runs out it is, according to Jamal, useless to wait for any help from the municipality.

Settler harassment has severely limited Jamal’s family’s everyday life. During Jewish religious holidays the family is too afraid to sending the children to school or to kindergarten. When we met Jamal, his 19-year-old son had been assaulted by a group of settlers near the Mutanabi school. According to Jamal harassment and assault are the settlers’ way to try to make the family leave their home. They have, however, firmly decided to stay:

“My family has been living in this house since 1949, my family was one of the first people who built houses here. I have never felt like going away from here”.

*Read more about Wadi al-Hussein.

Photos: Olive Harvest 2014

Click on the image below to see our Olive Harvest 2014 photo album on Facebook.

olive harvest Tel Rumeida

Olive harvest in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. Photo EAPPI/N. Forsstroem.

Have you ever joined the olive harvest in Palestine? Tell us about your experience.

*An article about this year’s olive harvestEAPPI photos from olive harvest 2013, and some olive harvest resources.

Hebron’s Cruel Reality: Child Detentions

by Hebron team

Mohammad Tareq and Mohammad Bahaa Al-Jabari, age 8 and 9, were detained on 24 September. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Mohammad Tareq and Mohammad Bahaa Al-Jabari, age 8 and 9, were detained on 24 September. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

As an EAPPI accompanier in the West Bank city of Hebron, you quickly get used to many occurrences that never would be tolerated in your home country.  Perhaps the hardest thing to get used to is the arrest and detention of children. During our two months here, the EAPPI Hebron team has witnessed several child detentions – we have also heard about numerous other such incidents from fellow international human rights monitors stationed in the city.

Children are most often detained on their way to and from school, but are also taken from their homes in the middle of the night. Mohammad Tareq and Mohammad Bahaa Al-Jabari are 8 and 9 years old. We watched them being detained close to their school on Wednesday, 24 September.

“We were just running and playing, chasing each other around, when the soldiers came for us. They probably thought we were running away from them.”

On the same day, we also witnessed the Israeli military driving past and stopping the boys outside a shop close to the same school. We know from testimonies of soldiers serving in Hebron that their key task is to make their presence known – stopping children on the way home from school is just one example of this duty.

“They were throwing stones, so now we have to take them to the police station. There their parents can pay a fine to get them released,” – a soldier told the observers upon arrival to the site of the detention.

According to the boys, the soldiers had also been rough in their treatment.

“A soldier grabbed my face tightly when he wanted me to confess to throwing stones,” one of the boys described.

The boys were taken away in an army vehicle to a police station close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, accompanied by one of the boys’ father. According to the boys, the father wasn’t allowed to speak to them. The boys were found innocent and released a couple of hours later, without the parents needing to pay a fine.

Picture of  12-year-old Yousef Hajajreh, who was arrested on 8 September. Photo EAPPI/N. Forsstroem.

Picture of 12-year-old Yousef Hajajreh, who was arrested on 8 September. Photo EAPPI/N. Forsstroem.

In a separate incident on the 8 September, EAs in Hebron watched when the Israeli army detained a number of young children during clashes involving tear-gas and sound-grenades next to the Salaymeh checkpoint. Children from six schools pass this checkpoint in the mornings and afternoons. According to observers who came to the site before EAPPI, the soldiers simply grabbed children at random – one of the children was Oday Rajabi, aged 7. At this checkpoint, tear-gas is an almost daily occurrence, which continuously disturbs students’ lessons and stops them from even getting to school

Only as a last resort

The detention of children is strictly regulated in international law. In spite of this, Israeli authorities routinely arrest children, and is the only country in the world that systematically tries children in military courts, according to a 2013 UNICEF. In Hebron, at least 41 children and 5 teachers were arrested in 2013 by Israeli forces [PDF – Page 6] on their way to or from school in H2, and in July 2014 as many as 192 children were detained by the Israeli military.

Consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children should be restrained only if they pose an imminent threat to themselves or to others, when all other means have been exhausted, and only for as long as is strictly necessary.

Longlasting trauma

Detention is a traumatic experience for children, regardless of its duration, according to a report from Save the Children in 2012. The research shows that detention has an affect on the psycho-social well being of the child, as well as the parents. This can go on to have a profound impact on the child’s future, especially on their education and career.

*Read more about the affects of the Israeli occupation on Children.

“I teach all the children at the school to keep their dignity.” ~Samia, Teacher, Cordoba School

IN PALESTINE, THE OBSTACLES TO RECEIVING AN EDUCATION ARE NUMEROUS. CHECKPOINTS, MILITARY PRESENCE, SETTLER ATTACKS, TREACHEROUS ROADS, CLOSED MILITARY ZONES, DEMOLITION ORDERS, AND VIOLENT CLASHES ARE ONLY A FEW.  BUT STUDENTS & TEACHERS PERSEVERE DAILY IN THEIR JOURNEY TO RECEIVE QUALITY EDUCATION.  WE BRING THESE FACES TO LIFE AND SHARE THEIR HOPES, CHALLENGES, AND DREAMS.

T.FJeldmann_TeacherSamiaAlJaberi_CP56_Hebron010914_2

Samia Al-Jaberi, Teacher, Cordoba School, Hebron. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Samia is a teacher at the Cordoba School, a Palestinian school in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron (known as H2), Palestine. The Cordoba school is located on Shuhada Street, a road that is almost entirely closed to Palestinians because of nearby Israeli settlements. On Friday 22nd August, the main checkpoint to Shuhada Street was destroyed by an arson attack. The Israeli army has begun the process of replacing the checkpoint, and, during this time, have made access to school for the children and teachers very difficult.

What are you looking forward to this year?

At first, like any year, I’m rested, and I’m excited to come back to school. I have many ideas and dreams – I want to give the children something good. I am happy to see my colleagues again. I am happy to see the children again. Being a teacher is not just work for me – this is my life. But, everything is difficult here, really difficult. I dreamed I could do something as a teacher, but my dreams are being destroyed.

For example, I wanted to take the children on school trips. Most of the children at this school don’t know many places in Hebron, so I wanted to take the children to visit these places. We have many libraries in Hebron, we have universities, and I would like the children to see these things. I would also like them to see another school. I’d like them to see what is normal – not because I want to make them sad, that’s not the idea. But, I want to see that what comes after the school here. They need to see what life will be like. But, doing these trips is impossible from this school.

What are your biggest challenges in going to school?

The biggest challenge I face in getting to school is the checkpoint. I have problems everyday there. The soldiers tell me that I cannot pass, even when I show them the permit which should allow me to cross. We speak with the soldiers, and, sometimes they let us through. But, if they do not let us through, then the teachers have to climb over rocks and our clothes got really dirty. This is not how a teacher should arrive at school. It takes away our dignity, and I think that’s what they want.

Once, as I was trying to cross the checkpoint, one of the soldiers said to me after seeing my teacher’s permit: “You are not a teacher, you’re just falafel.” The challenge is to keep our dignity – I will not let them take it. They have taken our land, but they will not take our dignity. I teach all the children at the school to keep their dignity. But, this is hard, I feel we are in a prison, not a school.

Also, all the teachers makes plans over the summer for the year ahead: the art teacher would like to do art, the science teacher would like to do experiments. But, then we don’t have the right equipment here, because it’s impossible to get many things through the checkpoint to the school.

What is needed for education to thrive in Palestine?

For education to thrive in Palestine, the occupation needs to end. When a land is under military occupation – your body, your mind, and your emotions are under occupation also. If you become ill, the occupation controls whether you can take medicine or not. If you want to educate, the occupation controls that too. Everything, not just education, is under the control of the occupation.

The occupation doesn’t need educated people, it doesn’t need education in order to survive, so, instead, destroys education. Sometimes it succeeds, but, now, because of technology, people have access to information. They can see what is happening in the world. Also, many people go outside of Palestine to learn and come back. This education itself will change our country, but it will take time. It is a slow process.

*Read more testimonies from this year’s Back to School series.
*Share the series on facebook with your friends.
*Check out last year’s photo essay: Visualizing Back to School in Palestine.

Operation ‘Collective Punishment’?

An overview of the village of Haska. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

An overview of the village of Haska. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

by Nanette-Marie, Trine, Simone, Itani, & Chris, Hebron team

Do you remember the three Israeli teenagers that were kidnapped and killed in June? The world has turned its attention to Gaza, so what might now be forgotten is that the current outbreak of conflict started from the three Israeli boys who disappeared and were later found dead near the Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank. In the search for the three teenagers, the Israeli army blockaded the city of Hebron, and turned the nearby village of Haska upside down. Many international organizations called on the Government of Israel to refrain from using collective punishment in “Operation Brother’s Keeper”, as homes, universities and charitable organizations were raided throughout the West Bank and over 700 Palestinians arrested, most of whom were not connected to the disappearance of the Israeli teenagers.

We visited the village of Haska to hear their accounts of what happened this June.

The army specifically targeted children, leaving them traumatized by the experience, says villager Mustafa Allan, father of four:

They beat my seven-year-old son up in order to get information from him. Now he wets his bed at night, which he never used to do before.

Mustafa Allan shows the results of the raids in his house. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Mustafa Allan shows the results of the raids in his house. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

The common understanding in the village is that the Israeli government knew that the three boys were dead from the beginning. This understanding stems from reports that surfaced that the Israeli army had evidence of their death from the day of their disappearance and that parts of the operation were planned before the disappearence. The villagers see the operation in Haska as a form of collective punishment, and the alleged kidnapping as a false justification to start an operation against Gaza.

They even blamed my twelve-year-old son Muhammed for being the kidnapper.

Looking at this shy little boy with big eyes and thick glasses, no one in his right mind could ever take him for a kidnapper. Apparently another young boy in the village had told the soldiers that Muhammed had seen the car of the kidnappers. According to some theories, the kidnappers had stopped in Haska for 40 minutes.

As a result, the Allan family was specifically targeted during the searches. Mustafa Allen showed EAs around his house, pointing at broken mirrors, cupboards and windows – and where once there was a bed, only rubble is left. The soldiers also destroyed their computer, apparently for no reason since they weren’t interested in any of the information stored on it.

They also took my 14-year old son away in their army vehicle and interrogated him. He used to be so open and social, but now he mostly keeps to himself.

Muhammad, Mustafa's 12 year old son. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Muhammad, Mustafa’s 12 year old son. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

The army also targeted the irrigation system and emptied water cisterns “looking for bodies”. The soldiers put chemicals into the cisterns, saying that it would react with any human remains in the water. This meant that some families were unable to drink their water for a whole week, as it was polluted with the chemicals.

In the neighbouring house, the farmer Jihad Abu Saymeh tells a similar story. He too was beaten up by the soldiers, ending up in hospital due to the wounds.

They took me to my green house and made me watch when they destroyed my crops. I couldn’t give them any information since I didn’t have any.

Jihad Abu Saymeh. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Jihad Abu Saymeh. Photo EAPPI/T. Fjeldmann.

Jihad Abu Saymeh suspects that the whole operation was merely a military training, as a new troop of soldiers would enter the house as soon as the previous soldiers had left. Saymeh tells the EAs that he didn’t dare to leave his family alone during the 18 days that the searches went on.

The soldiers could come several times a day. They tore everything down and made a huge mess. They even told us not to clean it up since they were coming back.

The operation only finished after the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers finally were found – 60 kilometres away from Haska. For the Allan family, this came in the very last minute, as the army was going to demolish their house. The soldiers had just ordered them to leave their home within two hours, but Mustafa Allan refused.

I told them we’ve lived here for seventeen years, so if they wanted to demolish our home we would go down with it.

Regardless of how traumatic the operation has been for the villagers, they see their suffering as small in comparison to elsewhere.

What we have gone through here is nothing compared to what the people in Gaza have experienced.

The Bicycle

by Stefanie, Summer team

Stefanie worked as an EA in Hebron from April until June 2014. This story was first published on her blog www.philnemo.com/en on May 5th, 2014.

Like any other day in Hebron, I spend this sunny Tuesday afternoon observing the kids in Shuhada street on their way back from school. I am standing at checkpoint 55, on the foot of Cordoba school. There is no physical barrier, yet a soldier makes sure that none of the kids continue walking on Shuhada street – because that part of the street is closed for Palestinians – but they all turn right to walk up the stairs. Next to the stairs there is a small square, which is used as a parking lot by Israeli settlers.

Checkpoint 55 in Hebron. Photo EAPPI/S. Gartlacher.

Checkpoint 55 in Hebron. Photo EAPPI/S. Gartlacher.

 

I am talking to the soldier. He tells me that he joined the army 6 months ago and that he came to Hebron three weeks ago. There is also a German tourist group asking me about my work in Hebron. While we talk, two 10 year old boys come down the stairs and stop to talk to the soldier. One of the youngsters points at an old bicycle that is lying in the square that he is not allowed to enter. He explains to the soldier that it is his bike. One of the German tourists speaks Arabic and translates the conversation for us.The soldier looks at me and says: “You can pick it up.” Without thinking about it, I walk towards the bicycle and pick it up. In the same moment Anat C. – a famous Israeli settler, who lives next to checkpoint 55 – shows up.

All of a sudden I remember: The bike is on the “Israeli side”, so maybe it’s not the Palestinian boy’s bike? I put the bike aside and walk back to the group. A couple of minutes later the police shows up. In the H2 area of Hebron there are two different law systems: Palestinians are ruled by military law, the Israeli police takes care of the settlers. The situation is chaotic, with the soldier trying to explain the situation to the policeman and Anat interrupting the conversation, pointing her finger at me. The policeman comes up to me and asks, why I had picked up the bike and if it was mine. “No,” is my answer, “I just wanted to pick it up for the boy.” The policeman asks: “Do you know that the bike is placed on the side Palestinians are not allowed to enter?” Yes, I know, but in that moment I didn’t think about it. I sometimes forget about all the invisible borders….

The Bicycle. Photo EAPPI/S. Gartlacher.

The Bicycle. Photo EAPPI/S. Gartlacher.

The policeman asks for my passport. To my relief my colleagues show up and observe the scene. Then the policeman tells me to get into the police car. I am nervous. He acts with authority but friendly and agrees on letting one of my colleagues come with me. The policeman tells me not to worry, we’re just going to the downtown police station. If I was in real trouble, they would bring me to Kiryat Arba, the settlement on the outskirts of Hebron. All right, even though I am sitting in a police car with bullet-proof windows, I am not in big trouble. I am not sure, if that makes me feel any better…

Anat C. is already at the police station. She accuses me of having tried to steal the bike. The police officer takes her evidence, I sit two meters away from them. While telling her side of the story, she looks at me for a brief moment with an empty gaze.

Stefanie explains her case to the soldier after Anat C. accuses her of stealing the bike. Photo EAPPI.

Stefanie explains her case to the soldier after Anat C. accuses her of stealing the bike. Photo EAPPI.

Then it’s my turn. I am nervous but calm, explaining the situation again. I also mention, that I cannot sign a document written in Hebrew, because I cannot read or understand it. With a friendly voice he offers that I write the testimony myself, since he doesn’t speak English very well. “I am allowed to write the testimony myself? That’s strange.” He gets my concern and explains to me, that he has to follow up on these cases, even if it seems weird to me. You are in Hebron. Things are different here. You have to be careful,” he says. I sign my testimony and he hands me my passport. I’ve never been happier to be able to hold my passport in my hands. On my way out, my colleague takes a photo of me and the police man. I am so relieved, I even give the policeman a hug. Outside, my colleagues are welcoming me with a warm smile.

The same evening I think back on the event. There is a boy who wants his bike – I still don’t know who the bike really belongs to – but can’t get it, because it’s on the “wrong side.” I  pick the bike up and end up being detained for attempted bike theft. The policeman is doing his job and follows up on every case, even the smallest one. In Anat’s view, I was intentionally committing a crime against the settlers. I can’t stop thinking about her empty gaze – what a sad look. Yes, life in Hebron is really different… 

Archaeological excavations in Tel Rumeida in Hebron expand and destroy more Palestinian land

EAs investigate the archaeological excavation at Tel Rumeida. Photo EAPPI/C. Bödker Pederson.

EAs investigate the archaeological excavation at Tel Rumeida. Photo EAPPI/C. Bödker Pedersen.

by Werner and Annica, Hebron team

The soldier shouts: “In 3 minutes I will shoot teargas, so everyone leave now!”

EAs withdraw a couple of meters together with the other international observers in Hebron. There are altogether about six of us, plus the members of the family of course. The young soldier is walking back and forth for a while, juggling the teargas grenade and grinning.

One could think that the EAs are caught in the midst of Friday clashes. But no, they are rather observing the enlargement of an archeological excavation.

On the left, one can see two strong women, a mother and a daughter, sitting where a big stonewall was standing just a couple of days ago. They won’t budge.

“This is our property,” they say.

For the second time a part of their wall, which marks the border between their property and the archeological excavation, has collapsed as a result of the digging.

“The workers must stop destroying our wall and stop destroying our olive tree.”

The olive tree in question now hangs half in mid-air, almost as in gasping for its last breath. Yet, it prevails. Just as the two women do.

One EA approaches Emmanuel Eisenberg, the elderly Israeli archeologist with a colorful shirt and a big hat. He is coordinating the project and is annoyed with the women disturbing his work.

Emmanuel Eisenberg and David Ben Shlomo look at the destroyed wall. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

Emmanuel Eisenberg and David Ben Shlomo look at the destroyed wall. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

“I didn’t know that the wall would collapse!” he responds quite irritated when told that the owners are worried that even the rest of the wall would come tumbling down.

“Well,” the EA replies, “I have no education in archeology, but with the way you were digging, even I could have told you beforehand that the wall would collapse.”

“How should I know? I am an archeologist, not a construction worker!”

“Well, the exact same thing happened before, I would expect you to have learned a lesson by now?”

The archeologist goes from annoyed to angry.

The Israeli police arrived and and talk with the women. After heated discussions we are told that the archeologists have been prohibited from touching the wall. It would seem that the two strong women have won a small, rare victory over the overwhelming power of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Sadly, however, the IAA has seldom respected such prohibitions, and the internationals and the women will be ready for work even the next day.

Every Inch Matters on Tel Rumeida 

The excavations on the historical mount of Tel Rumeida are no new phenomenon. We posted about it in February on the EAPPI blog.

The current digs on Tel Rumeida, the hill believed to be the location of biblical Hebron, have secured support from Ariel University and the Israel Antiquities Authority. They were planned to last for a year, and cost around 7 million NIS.

The excavation site is blocked of by fences and danger signs. Photo EAPPI/C. Bödker Pedersen.

The excavation site is blocked of by fences and danger signs. Photo EAPPI/C. Bödker Pedersen.

The lead archeologist at the site, Emmanuel Eisenberg is no stranger to the people living on Tel Rumeida. Already in the late 1990s, Eisenberg and the Israel Antiquities Authority were involved in the archeological digs, which famously resulted in the expansion of the Admot Yishai Settlement to house even more settlers right on top of the excavations.

As above, even the current excavations form part of a larger vision: a biblical pathway, and the adherent archeological park.

The planned archaeological park in Hebron will include areas that have been excavated both the 1960’s by an American archaeologist, P. Hammond, and in the 1980’s by Israeli authorities. The present excavations also include the cleaning of previous excavations sites, and expanding existing pathways amid Palestinian houses. In a couple of years, there could even be cafes and kiosks and a steady stream of architecture aficionados.

The biblical pathway will lead from one side of the hill to the other, effectively cutting the Palestinian neighbourhood in half, while simultaneously providing panoramic views of the ancient city of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The Israeli archaeological organization Emek Shaveh, which works on the role of archaeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been critical of the motives behind the excavations, as well as the possible findings. According to their experts, none of the findings in land Lot 52 (find a map of area here) so far have been of exceptional archaeological significance, nor have the findings given any support to the plans of a tourist attraction in the area.

The poor results of the initial digs may also be one reason why in May 2014 the digs were significantly expanded over onto land lot 53, covering now almost double the amount of land they used to on land lot 52.

The Emek Shaveh experts explain that the ancient walls found in the neighbouring lot 53 have much more historical relevancefor the planned archaeological park, since these can at least be dated to the time of the Patriarchs and to the kingdoms of Judea and Israel.

Still, the Director General of Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities for the Palestinian Authority in Hebron, Dr. Ahmeed Rjoob shows no hesitation in calling the current excavations illegal. Palestinian Authorities are prohibited from even visiting the excavations, and prevented from evaluating and assisting the archaeological work.

Under the Oslo agreement, all excavations inside Hebron are required to be coordinated with us, but they never contacted us, and they keep ignoring us.”

Furthermore, the planned archaeological park qualifies as expansion of the existing Tel Rumeida settlement.

Continued Palestinian Perseverance

The Abu Haikal family’s fight for their private property has been rewarded with a couple of small victories, only to be followed by bigger disappointments.

Recently, Fariel Abu Haikal has on several occasions single-handedly stopped the digs by stepping in front of both the proverbial and the real life bulldozer that has been trespassing onto her land. Most often her daughter Arwa joins her, and side-by-side the two strong women have engaged in an iconic stand-off against the perpetrators.

Ferial Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

Fariel Abu Haikal discusses with Israeli soldiers. Photo EAPPI/W. Bischler.

So it goes on. Day after day the two women defend their land, as international observers provide protective presence. And the world is taking note.

People from all over the world are following the continuous updates from the excavation site. At the time of writing, the Facebook page called Save Tel Rumeida, which the Abu Haikal family created in January 2014, has more than 600 members and photos and videos are posted on almost a daily basis.