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Struggle for Survival in Al Hadidya

Fiona | 29.10.2008 12:20 | 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 Fiona's blog

For the last six years the people of Al Hadidiya have faced constant intimidation and threats from the IDF to leave their homes and farmland in the Jordan Valley. They have had homes demolished, farm machinery confiscated and to date have demolition orders on all of their remaining homes and animal shelters.

There are eight families left living in tents with no water or electricity. In April 2007 there were sixteen but eight of those left due to the demolitions, threats and general conditions they had to endure under the IDF. One family has managed to return back to raise sheep in the area but the other seven now live near the road in an area by Atoof called Ras Ahmar. They hope to return to Al Hadidiya soon. We spoke to Sakker, a member of the one of the few remaining families, who told us that they live under constant threat and at any time the soldiers can enter and implement these orders. They fear that everything will very soon be destroyed, levelled and families ordered to leave or face grave consequences. They have had many warnings from the soldiers but never know exactly when they will come. Sakker thought they would choose the most critical time for the families like January or February as there would be much rain and bad conditions for them. Farmers find travelling in such bad conditions difficult therefore it is likely that Israeli’s would pick such a time to cause relocation difficulties. Sakker said if the Israeli's demolish the village then they will refuse to leave as this is their land and it is his father's wishes to be buried in Al Hadidiya.

Just last month the Israeli's demolished many houses from the area near Ro'i and Hamsa settlements. They confiscated two tractors and ordered the farmers to pay 11,000 shekels per tractor to get them back. They are aware the farmers are poor and cannot afford this, hence forcing them to leave as farming without a tractor is almost impossible. They repeat this process over and over until there is nothing left and the Palestinian families are forced out. Once the land is vacant of people then they confiscate it to develop new settlements. Water tanks cannot be transported to the land without tractors. The farmers have to travel 30 km away to Ein Al Beida and Bardala just to get water when there is a well just 2km away which the Israeli's control. They are not permitted to use these even though the water well is sourced from a natural spring situated on Palestinian land.

The area of Al Hadidiya is surrounded by Israeli settlement houses, farms, and military bases. Every hilltop in all directions is a military base or watchtower. Each corner of land around it has plush green plantations and greenhouses with visible signs of water stations and sophisticated irrigation systems. All this in stark contrast to the barren land of Al Hadidiya. The conditions are very poor and the people struggle in indescribable ways to maintain their existence here. As we sat talking the sound of gunfire was constant as was the military aircraft which flew overhead from surrounding IDF bases, it was disturbing. We asked Sakker more about how being surrounded on all sides by Israeli military bases affected them and how they have been treated by the Israeli’s. He explained that they have been subjected to very harsh treatment whilst going about their normal working day. On many occasions shepherds have been taken to nearby Al Hamra checkpoint and detained whilst their flocks have been left to stray off. Farmers are often detained at checkpoints and forced to stand with hands tied behind their backs for anything from 5 to 10 hours with no food or water. Sakker said this has happened to him and on one occasion he had his ID torn up in front of him at a checkpoint by the soldiers. They sometimes can get help from the UN and Red cross when held at checkpoints but was unable to say how this was achieved or how often they helped. He explained that this happened often and the last time was two weeks ago.

Today the floods from the last few days of heavy rainfall caused a new devastation. The water is needed desperately, but caused serious damage to their homes. Water soaked through their tent roofs washing away precious cattle grain, spoiling many sacks of dried milk powder and creating mud carpets mixed with other essential items. At one point the water levels within the tents rose as much as one metre. Sakker showed us the damage inside their homes and it was shocking. They had only plastic sheets to put down to sit and sleep on as everything else was ruined or still soaked. Today it was dry and warm but the rain clouds loom above the mountains, there are reports of much more rain to come in the area.

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