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Reports From the Brighton Group - Makhool; After Hadidya We Will be Next

Fiona | 02.11.2008 12:24 | 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

Makhool is situated just higher in the Valley than Al Hadidiya and like them their land is also surrounded by Israeli Military bases and very close to this small community is a training ground and firing range. The road, just 100m away from the homes, is Israeli controlled and busy with settler and military traffic. As a community who rely on grazing sheep, they face many problems from Israeli’s if their sheep wander onto the nearby road. ‘It causes us problems’, said Josef, who explained ‘if they are on the road, they are taken’.

We met Josef who told us that there are eleven families consisting of seven to eight people per family. They are permitted to live here by the Israeli's. He told us that the conditions here are very poor and still they are under threat. They are not permitted access to any water, electricity or any other amenities. The surrounding settlements have land pipes for water and many electricity pylons surround Makhool to provide electricity to the settlements.

They have lived here for seventeen years as refugees from the Tubas region and Tammun which had great amounts of their land confiscated. Homeless they had no choice but to find some Palestinian common land in which to reside. Before they came here they have had to keep moving on all over the valley, being moved on each time as more and more Palestinian land was taken by Israeli’s. In 1970 the Israeli’s started to record the Palestinian populations in the Jordan Valley.

They have no demolition orders on their homes or cattle sheds at present. Despite this, they have had much of their land confiscated by the Israeli state. Last year Israel confiscated another 365 dunums of land for military purposes. The remaining land is shared by all the families in this small community.

Josef says if the Israeli’s succeed in demolishing and drivimg out the community of Al Hadidiya that they are next in line. The threat is imminent. Israeli’s say that the land is unused and the residents of Makhool have no official ownership documents.

They find it hard to sustain themselves and their hardship is made much worse by the recent flooding from rainfall. They too are devastated by the damage caused and spoke of loss of grain, food supplies and sheep. ‘Eleven lambs were lost and food washed away in the floods’ Josef said. (It had already started to rain during the interview with Josef and we were taken inside one of their tents for some shelter.)

When asked if any of them worked in the settlements to help sustain their living or education as many other Palestinians in the valley were forced to do, Josef replied, ‘this is not possible as we are not allowed permits to work in the settlements’.

Josef said they are faced with other problems from the Israeli soldiers for example shepherds are stopped by soldiers whilst gathering their flocks and asked for ID, some have been detained at checkpoints. He told us that his brother Assain was taken by soldiers just two weeks ago to Al Hamra checkpoint. He was with Josef and Abu Sakker from Al Hadidiya.

We asked the reason his brother was detained, he explained that the soldiers stopped his brother whilst he was returning from Atoof. Soldiers told him it was forbidden for Palestinians to be there. They took him first to the gate by the separation ditch dug on Palestinian farmland. Assain was on the village owned part of this ditch and gate when they picked him up. Palestinians are only allowed to use the road by gate in Atoof by the ditch for three days a week. They said this time Palestinians were not allowed, yet it was one of the designated days. He was detained like this from 6pm until 3 am.

Whilst detained he was made to stand with his hands tied behind his back for 6 hours, he received hard blows to the head with a rifle butt from the soldiers. It is usual to be kept for long periods of time like this at checkpoints with hands tied, no food or water or access to a toilet.

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