A “Stop Work Order” for a Completed House: A Kafkaesque Story

By the Jordan Valley team, 

12.10.15. Jordan Valley, Humsa. Mahmod with the orders given to him. EAPPI / J. Puukki

12.10.15. Jordan Valley, Humsa. Mahmod with the  stop work orders issued to him by the Israeli authorities. Photo EAPPI/J. Puukki

This is Mahmod. He lives in a herding community in the north of the Jordan Valley. Mahmod lives with his family of eight, this includes two sons, two daughters, his daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. The family earns their livelihood by herding sheep and keeping other animals, such as chickens. They used to live in a concrete house, which provided a living space for the family and a shelter for their animals. In October 2014 the family received a “stop work order” from the Israeli authorities despite having finished their home three years before. Because they failed to “stop the construction” on a home that was already completed, their home was demolished in August 2015 by the Israeli military.

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Home sweet home in firing zone 918

by the South Hebron Hills team.

It is six o’clock in the morning, and day is about to break over the valley below. In the distance, the foothills of the Negev emerge above the mist. All is quiet and peaceful in Ziad’s tiny homestead, where we have just spent the night.  Only the hollering of the jackals and the barking of a lone dog interrupted the silence of last night. Ziad arose well before daybreak to say his two morning prayers, as is his religious custom. He has worked tirelessly all morning feeding fodder and maize to his one hundred and twenty sheep.

He lives by himself in a very small simple cave and he seems satisfied with its rudimentary comfort it offers. Electricity comes from solar panels and water is collected in cisterns. A local NGO has built a toilet cubicle adjacent to the house. A few olive trees and a fig tree are planted next to the small platform where Ziad sits when he rests for a moment. A small paradise on earth, one may think and yet a closer look at life in this area reveals that it is far from ideal…

13-10-15 South Hebron Hills Bir al Idd Breakfast after overnight protective presence Abu Tariq EAPPI BG. Saltnes

13.10.15 South Hebron Hills, Bir al Idd, Abu Tariq and EA share breakfast after overnight protective presence Photo EAPPI BG. Saltnes

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PHOTO ESSAY: Israeli military presence in the city of Hebron

by the Hebron Team.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is very visible in the city of Hebron due to its division into two parts H1 and H2. The city has been divided since 1997 and it is the only city on the West bank, except for East Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers and Israeli military  live and operate in the city centre. H1 is administered by the Palestinian authority and H2 the smaller part of the city is under Israeli military control. Several areas in H2 are restricted for Palestinians and especially those close to Israeli settlements.

The images below offer an insight into what life is like for Palestinians living under military occupation and give a glimpse of the harsh realities that they face on a daily basis.

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Uprooted lives: Christians protest the construction of the wall in the Cremisan

By the Bethlehem team.

On August 17 Israeli soldiers and security personnel supervised the the bulldozing of land and the uprooting of over 100 ancient olive trees in the Bir Ouma. Many of the trees that were uprooted were as old as 1500 years old. The land is being cleared to facilitate the routing of the separation wall through the Cremisan Valley. The planned route for the wall is three kilometers inside the 1949 Armistice ‘green line’ and is set to be built on privately owned Palestinian land in Beit Jala.The clearing of the land is taking place despite a previous court ruling and without any warning being given to the local landowners. Local Christians have been gathering daily at the site of the bulldozing to protest the illegal confiscation of their land and to pray for the protection of the Cremisan Valley.

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E1: The End of the Dream for a Palestinian State?

by Jerusalem Team.

The Israeli authorities plan to expand the settlement Ma’ale Adumim and connect it to Jerusalem was approved by the Israeli government 1999. The plan, commonly referred to as the E1 Plan, has long been opposed by the international community as an obstacle to the realization of the two-state solution. Several events that have taken place in recent months indicate an acceleration of the implementation of this plan.

15.08.15, E1 area, Ma’ale Adumim and Jabal Al Baba, Atallah Mazarah Photo EAPPI

15.08.15, Jerusalem, E1 area, Ma’ale Adumim settlement and Jabal Al Baba Bedouin community. Photo EAPPI/A. Mazarah

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Harassment in the Hebron Hills

by South Hebron Hills Team.

Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civilian control since the Oslo Accords of 1993, is dotted with Bedouin villages. Many of the Bedouin currently living in Palestine fled there in 1948 from their ancestral lands in the Negev Desert as the newly-founded State of Israel pushed its way into the Negev. The Bedouin purchased land from the local people and initially were able to continue their simple farming – growing crops and shepherding.

Since 1967 when Israel began to occupy the West Bank, Area C has also become dotted with Israeli settlements, the building of which is illegal under Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a convention ratified by the State of Israel.

30.07.15 . South Hebron Hills, Um al Kher next to Karmel settlement. Photo EAPPI / S. Lise Bedringaas

30.07.15 . South Hebron Hills, Um al Kher next to Karmel settlement. Photo EAPPI / S. Lise Bedringaas

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Susiya: ‘another day of seeking and working for a just peace’

by EA Rev. D. Etherington​, Susiya

Just 14 months ago, I said my goodbyes to the residents of Susiya.  And now I have returned to this village in the South Hebron Hills as it faces threats of imminent demolition and a forced removal of all those living here. I have returned to Susiya at the invitation of the World Council of Churches to be part of a team of internationals providing ecumenical accompaniment and protective presence to the village in hopes that a demolition and removal may be put off.

02.07.15 Susiya. Abu Jihad with his grandchildren, July 2015, photo EAPPI by L. Magne Helgesen

02.07.15 Susiya. Abu Jihad with his grandchildren, July 2015, Photo EAPPI / L. Magne Helgesen

My arrival in Susiya coincided with the first day of Ramadan, the most holy time in the Muslim year, a time of fasting for the month. This month of fasting begins with the daily call to prayer in the pre-dawn hours and ends at the sunset call to prayer. This period of Ramadan will end July 18 and is a time of reflection and reformation of the soul.

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