For three hours on Friday, July 12, from 11 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon, dozens of settlers from Kiryat Arba invaded the land and gardens of the Jaber family – Atta, Rudina and their three children – in al-Baqaa, near Hebron. Accompanied by the Israeli police and led by Malachi Levinger, the son of the violent settlement pioneer Moshe Levinger who himself has been implicated in many attacks on families in the al-Baqaa area, they uprooted his plants and replaced them with their own.
This is not the first time the Jaber family has been terrorized by settlers from Kiryat Arba, who claim his land and that of his neighbors. The family, which had lived on its land for the past 600-700 years, had 400 dunams of agricultural land (100 acres) before the Israeli Occupation of 1967. Since then they have lost almost all of it, being left with just 60 dunams, and most of that within the Kiryat Arba settlement and thus off-limits to them.
Over the year they have had their vineyards ripped out and their irrigation systems destroyed; indeed, the entire al-Baqaa, a rich grape- and olive-growing valley, is being dried up by Israel’s refusal to supply it with water or even allow the Palestinian farmers to dig wells or reservoirs for the collection of rainwater. (Kiryat Arba’s Olympic-size swimming pool is visible from the Jaber home.)
In 2010, Kiryat Arba and the Civil Administration put up signs declaring the Jaber property a new neighborhood of the settlement, called Nofei Hebron (“Vistas of Hebron”). Settler attacks intensified, including a night-time invasion in which settlers laid the concrete foundations of a new settlement “outpost.” (Jeff of ICAHD and Rabbi Arik Aschermann of Rabbis for Human Rights physically destroyed those foundations once the settlers left). In 2012 Jawdi’s car was burned.
In short, settler violence is NEVER investigated and settlers are NEVER arrested, even if the police are on the scene of the crime. The goal: to terrorize the Palestinians to leave their land, which would then be grabbed up by settlers in the name of the state of Israel. If anyone tries to tell you that Israel does not engage in ethnic cleansing or that what it does is for reasons of “security,” take them to the Jaber family. Nice people (Jawdi and Atta both speak fluent English) whose wives, Aisha and Rudina, will make you delicious maklubeh and who kids are bright and photogenic – but be aware, you are in the presence of genuine heroes. These are people who are scared, wounded, traumatized, sad, impoverished and oppressed, but they are sumud, steadfast. The Jabers will prevail. They have the strength to resist whatever violence, injustice and pain the Israeli government, its settlers and its apathetic population can bring to bear. Indeed, theirs are the shoulders upon which our world rests. Last March Atta gave testimony to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, his visit sponsored by the Norwegian Refugee Council and Badil.
Only one thing can break them: if they feel they are abandoned
Circulate this as widely as possible, especially to your political representatives.