Children of the village of Jeniba, who are found in danger since their school area turned into the IDF’s fire area range
On Wednesday, May 9th, we went to the South East part of South Hebron Hills as a part of a tour for journalists to the Janiba village. We stopped at a school that is in a danger of being demolished by the Civil Administration. The threat of a new fire area range affects the lives of all the people in the area. A description of a human rights activist’s tour to the heart of the Darkness.
The village of Janiba is under threats of demolition orders. Soldiers are training a few hundred meters from the school. In the last two weeks the soldiers invaded the fields of the village and vandalized them. All this was done without any justification, consideration, or dialogue with the village residents. The soldiers built tents on the village’s lands, entered the lands with vehicles and even arrested some of the village residents.
Some of the teachers in the village of Janiba were arrested on the grounds of entering a fire area range. But no one in the security forces thought to inform the teachers that there is a new fire range area near the school. Who locates a fire range near a school with children and teachers and why? Who will be responsible if somebody will be killed? Why weren’t the local residents informed about this new fire range area?
The village of Janiba existed for many years before the State of Israel was established. Here is an aerial photo of the village from 1945. But this fact does not prevent Israel from expelling the local residents time after time. At the moment, 13 villages in South Hebron Hills area are located within the Israeli newly established “fire range area”. A complaint was filed to the court and we are waiting for Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, to present his stand on this topic.
We sat in a cave with the leaders of the village. They told us, story after story, about the events in the region and our hearts ached. We heard about tortures, false arrests, night raids. The residents told that one night the IDF arrived with a lot of forces, loaded the residents in threw them in Yata. Sadly, we listened to the stories about the “green patrol” that arrived to the village one day in 2003, loaded its trucks with 252 cattle animals and slaughtered all at the same day. 72 year old Muhamad Jabrin emphasizes the digit two in the number of the animals they took, talking about the each of them as if they were his children.The green patrol’s claim was that the cattle were diseased. But Jabrin claims that later on it became clear that the green patrol committed a crime and sold the meat for profit. Jabrin did not agree to keep silent. He turned to the Israeli court, his file was accepted, and he was even compensated. But after close to 10 years, the damage and the humiliation, the pain in his eyes and in his hear is still fresh.
Demolition orders in Um El Hir add up to the threat on the lives of the residents of South Hebron Hills
The way back up the mountain is not simple. There is a steep uphill slope that only a 4X4 jeep can weather. Even this unpaved road received demolition orders from the Israeli Civil Administration. It is important to mention that the Civil Administration demolishes only within Palestinian villages, and builds in settlements. Israel Does not have a concrete suggestion as for the future of the area, but it goes against every possibility for improvement, streamlining, and investment in the infrastructure of the Palestinian residents in South Hebron Hills.
Awad family is harvesting today. I recommend every Israeli to arrive and see. The sheaves are beautiful and the hospitality of the local residents is as flaring. A few meters away, Um El Hir village is located. We got to see a calving in their shed. At the same time, we learned that the village received two new demolition orders (received on the 2.5.2012):
- First demolition order was issued against a new tin shed that is recently built with the help of Ucha (and international rights center).The new structure, which was completed yesterday, was supposed to be the house of a widow and her seven children, whose house was demolished on 25.1.2012 by the Israeli security forces.
- Second demolition order was issued against the frame of a commercial vehicle that functions as the gathering place for the village children. Inside the vehicle there is a library and a humble place to play which offers basic services due to the absence of wide infrastructure. But this facility also did not receive the approval of the Israeli security forces, while at the same time no alternative is offered to the children in the area of South Hebron Hills in general and in Um El Hir in particular.
On the way back you run into new roadblocks in “Zif” area. Every few weeks or months the IDF’s bulldozer goes out to display its dominance. These engineering forces block round on arbitrarily, without taking into account the residents of the area. This time the road to the school was blocked as well.
Pictures from the tour are available in our Facebook album.