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Reports from the Brighton Group - Living in the Shadow of Al Hamra

Sarah | 28.10.2008 22:56 | Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco | Anti-militarism | Palestine | South Coast | World

This is part of a series of blogs from delegation of eight people from Brighton who arrived in the Tubas region of occupied Palestine last week. The delegation is part of the project by the Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group. The group's aims are to highlight Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the region, raise awareness about life under occupation and create practical solidarity links between grassroots organisations in Brighton and Tubas region.

This is an excerpt from Sarah's blog

As you cross Al Hamra checkpoint heading for the Jordan Valley you come to a barren area of land with a few demolished buildings and homes made of wood, tin and plastic. Harrab, Suileman, their families, and all the other families of Hamra are surviving under extreme pressure from the Israeli administration that wants to annex the land and ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians. The first building we came to was a water well and pump that had been destroyed in 1982. Since then they try to collect some water as it runs off the mountains in winter, but have to collect the vast majority by tractor and water tank from Ein Shibli, the other side of the checkpoint, never being sure if they will be allowed through. In addition they have to pay £50 per 10 cubic metres. On 8th September 08 the Israeli administration confiscated two of Harrab's brother's water tanks with his tractor. They said that he didn't have permission to have them, and that he could only get them back if he paid a 12000 shekels (2000 pounds) fine and signed papers agreeing that his whole family would leave the area.

The absolute irony is that there are water pipes running under their land, but they are prohibited from having water from them. Further, they have no electricity, whilst Hamra checkpoint, just a few hundred meters away, has an electricity supply, and they can see the pylons running over the hills as they sit outside their house. Their families have lived in this area for generations. It is hard to believe that they use to grow citrus trees when you look across their arid land, but without water they are unable to irrigate any crops or trees. They can only keep sheep, chickens and other animals that they can graze and buy food for. Even this is under threat with the demolition orders that the Israeli administration issued on their animal shelters in February 2008. Harrab and Suileman were angry that they have been left in this situation, with no support from the Palestinian Authority or the United Nations. As Palestinians, they are hanging onto their land against the odds. There used to be 40 extended families living in the area, but only 20 are left.

The intentions of the Israeli state were unambiguous as we tried to cross back through the checkpoint later in the day. They pointed back towards Hamra, Humsa and Al Jiftlik and said: "That is Israel", then towards Nablus that they acknowledged to be a "Palestinian area". In fact this is all the West Bank, it is all within the green line, and none of it is Israel