There is no place safe

The right to feel safe and secure in one’s own home is a basic human right; but for the families living in Al Bweireh and the Baqa’a valley, it is impossible to escape constant threats in their own homes. The Israeli military and police have demolished homes and confiscated large tracts of land.

Families with small children and elderly parents are left literally homeless, with no possessions beyond what they were able to snatch to safety. A lifetime of work saving for and furnishing their homes is gone in a matter of minutes. Oftentimes the family is forced to hobble together what little shelter they can and must watch while others harvest the crops they worked so hard to plant on land that had been in their family for generations. Other times fruit and olive trees which have been carefully tended year after year are uprooted and left to die. Al Bweireh is being erased one farm at a time.

Demolished home 'Atta Jaber's house was bulldozed by Israeli military forces. Before the house was demolished, the family was expelled and neighbors were beaten. Most of the furniture was still inside when the house was flattened into rubble temporary shelter

It is a living situation unfit for any child; but after the demolition, this became Atta and his family’s ‘home’. With the help of forty volunteers and Christian Peacemakers Team members, Atta’s family was able to rebuild a two-room structure with no bathroom just north of their demolished home in order to at least give the family some shelter. (Less than a month later, the Israeli military came and demolished even that!)

Even those families whose homes, stables, tool sheds, and crops are not razed to the ground are not free of threat. Radical settlers from Givat Ha Harsina and its illegal outpost attempt to drive the farming families nearby away by use of threats, violence, and vandalism. (CPT) Settlers from the outpost often attack while the men of the neighborhood are away from their homes. Women from neighboring families report that when they hear screams coming from next door, all they can do is watch from the window and cry.

The families of Al Bweireh live under Israeli military law. Families are not permitted outdoors after dark. Their homes may be searched and their children detained without need of a warrant.

home own protects windows from attack

Price tag

Worsening the situation, radical settlers have adopted a ‘price tag’ policy. Each time the military moves against illegal outposts, the Palestinian farmers and merchants living nearby are made to pay a price through destruction of property or physical harm.

Attacks by settlers are the norm. On rare occasions when the pattern of violence is reversed and a settler is attacked, all the families in Al Bweireh are made to bear the burden of that crime even if there is no proof that the assailant was not another settler or someone from outside the area.

Five years ago a settler from Givat Ha Harsina was killed by an unknown assailant. No arrests were made and authorities were unable to solve the murder. And yet, all the surrounded Palestinian families were punished as though every man, woman, and child had somehow held the murder weapon and taken a life. Click here to read the account.

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

demolished rainwater cistern in Al Bweireh demolished rainwater cistern in Al Bweireh Israeli border police demolished a rainwater cistern in Al Bweireh.

Cutting irrigation tubes

There is an underwater aquifer lying underneath Hebron. There should be no shortage of clean water to drink, cook, bathe children, and irrigate crops. And yet, for the people of Al Bweireh water can be a scarce commodity. The water line, installed by the Palestinian Authority from another village has no water in the pipes. The aquifer underneath Hebron is in Area C and thus under the direct control of the Israeli military. The Israeli water company, Mekorot has a well leading into the aquifer. While residents of Al Bweireh pay Mekorot for water, they do not receive the amount for which they pay. Numerous rain water cisterns, constructed to add to the water supply available, have been demolished by the Israeli military. Many residents of Al Bweireh have felt they have no choice but to tap into the Mekorot water line at the well site. This carries its own risks:

On July 14th, 2010 the military entered the fields of seven farmers in Al Bweireh. Rather then severing the connection at the well’s source, the military destroyed the irrigation pipes in the fields. Growing produce is costly in terms of materials and time. A 200 meter roll of irrigation drip pipe costs about a $100.00. It takes 8 to 12 days to install irrigation drip piping on just one acre of land. Not only were the irrigation pipes destroyed, the military bulldozed a local rain water cistern and cut the twine holding up hundreds of tomato plants. The military waited until the crops were almost ready for harvest, thus inflicting the greatest amount of damage on these farm families.