The raiding of the village of Ein Hajlah

Photo: Samer Nazzal

Ein Hajlah village eviction (Photo: Samer Nazzal)

It was secretly reported that youth resistance activists in Palestine decided to return to the Palestinian village of Ein Hajla, the residents of which were evicted during the 1967 war. Ein Hajla is mostly Canaanite land owned by the Orthodox Church, on which there are historical houses built from straw, mud and palm trees, giving it an exceptional aesthetic charm.

In support of and solidarity with the peaceful protesters, I joined those who were among the first to reach the depopulated Palestinian village. We cleaned the village and cleared its houses of the mud and garbage that was lying about. We then collected dry palm tree branches and burned them at night. We divided ourselves into work teams, including one team in charge of food distribution and one in charge of security. We stayed the night, organizing activities inspired by the village’s history and heritage, such as dancing dabka, organising workshops and singing Palestinian songs calling for freedom, hope and love.

I left the village with those who were accompanying me that night and it was a toilsome trip because of the siege that the Israeli army had placed on the village. We spent several hours on the road.

Nevertheless I decided to return two days later to spend the night there, joined by medical relief volunteers. We went there with two cars, one of which was an ambulance car. We brought food and drinking water. When we arrived at the village, the army inspected the two cars and confiscated the food and water. We understood that the siege would continue until the activists were forced to leave the village. That night we installed a large screen to watch a film. A group of Bedouins joined us, as a gesture of solidarity, and we started to dance and sing traditional Bedouin songs. Sleeping was very hard because of the extreme cold, particularly at dawn, and the lack of blankets.

We remained until Thursday night December 31, 2014, when a large number of people from all over the West Bank gathered for Friday prayers in the village. It had been expected that hundreds would come the next morning to Ein Hajla, and indeed groups of young women and men came, with children also arriving with their families to stay in the village. It was an exceptional night, in which we celebrated the birthday of the little girl Ahed Al-Tamim, and others who had birthdays that day.

When I lay down on a sleeping mat and the others were busy dancing and singing, I felt that the eyes of the Israelis were on us, but they did not intervene. I speculated that the absence of foreign press, in contrast to the Bab al-Shams experience (when activists established a ‘return’ camp near Jerusalem) may have been one of the reasons why the Israelis had allowed us to enter and stay in this village. Another reason might have been the Israeli concern that hundreds would come and others would join the next Friday morning for Friday prayers which means there would be thousands and would make the situation difficult to control. We had expected them to assault us from the beginning. However shortly after I heard voices asking people to stay in the houses and tents, and  there was talk of a raid operation.

Photo: Samer Nazzal

Ein Hajlah village eviction (Photo: Samer Nazzal)

It was 1.30 am on Friday and immediately I headed towards the place where the Occupation Forces had started attacking the village. There were hundreds of soldiers and they had brought huge bulldozers, dogs and stink-water cannons. The activist Tamer Alatrash and I went to evaluate the number of soldiers and when we saw that there were many we returned and attempted to make a human chain to stop them from storming the village. Tamer Alatrash, Amad Al-Atrash  and Imad Abu Shamssih came with me in the first row and the soldiers used sound bombs to generate panic among us, in addition to hitting whoever was near them in a savage manner.

Ein Hajlah village eviction (Photo: Samer Nazzal)

Ein Hajlah village eviction (Photo: Samer Nazzal)

They violently dragged me by the shirt for a few meters, my face to the ground, and hit me and stood on my back. They tried to tie my hands behind my back and twisted my arm painfully. I could hardly breathe because of the soldier standing on my back and neck, and I felt my body going weak. I woke up after a while, with two ambulance workers around me, pushing me into one of the ambulances. I went in and heard that the Occupation forces had destroyed the village with bulldozers and were trying to evacuate the people of the village by force.

They had also stormed into one of the Christian monasteries near the village, and had sprayed everything with skunk-water.

I did not think of my son, who is 15 years old, except after entering the ambulance, because I consider that my son is part of the village and that his fate is tied with it. What happens to him happens to others. He is not better than them. We were taken to the hospital because of the critical condition of some of us and the severe bruises of others. According to the Jericho hospital staff, there were 41 wounded. Only after I received treatment I realized that I had lost everything – my money, my camera and other means of recording the events, which to me are the best weapon to monitor the human rights violations of the occupation and its crimes.

About Badia Dwaik

Badia Dwaik is a leader of the group, Youth Against Settlements, in Hebron
Posted in Activism, Israel/Palestine, Occupation, On the ground reports

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Citizen says:

    Now that’s a good use of Dick and Jane’s taxpayer dollars. Too bad they don’t give a crap.

  2. just says:

    “I did not think of my son, who is 15 years old, except after entering the ambulance, because I consider that my son is part of the village and that his fate is tied with it. What happens to him happens to others. He is not better than them.”

    What happened to him and to you is because of us– my government and many of my fellow citizens who support Israel’s behavior and their illegal and cruel actions…many with a monomaniacal drive, and some with a thoroughly inhuman and immoral ‘who cares’ shrug.

    I am so, so sorry. We will not be judged kindly for our hypocrisy and complicity– nor should we be. Some of us do care very much, and will continue to work in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinians (within Palestine and in the enforced diaspora) who have suffered so grievously, and continue to do so this very minute.

    I can only hope that Pope Francis will witness first hand the horror that Israel and the settlers have wrought upon the good people and their lands. I hope that he condemns these gross injustices vocally and vociferously.

    • just says:

      “They had also stormed into one of the Christian monasteries near the village, and had sprayed everything with skunk-water.”

      “Article 53 [ Link ] — Protection of cultural objects and of places of worship

      Without prejudice to the provisions of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954, and of other relevant international instruments, it is prohibited:

      (a) to commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples;

      (b) to use such objects in support of the military effort;

      (c) to make such objects the object of reprisals.”

      link to icrc.org

      The IOF in clear violation again. When is enough, enough?

    • in 1979, psychotic jewish land invaders of palestine, known also by the truth perverting mass media as settlers, repeatedly began to harras and threaten a greek orthodox priest in and around the church at the famous christian holy site of jacobs well, where it is said jesus once talked with a samarian women.
      this act of kindness by jesus was extremely taboo then, a jew was not allowed to talk with a samarian, and vice-a-versa.
      the woman was apparently so struck with jesus that she went home to tell everyone in her home village whereby they all converted.
      the psycho-landstealers one day stormed the church where the kindly priest was giving vespers and savagely cut off his fingers that he used to make the cross across his chest. the jews demanded he renounce jesus but he refused.
      they then, once outside, threw a bomb inside the church and blew it up, with the priest inside.
      he has since been martyrized as st. philomenos of jacobs well.

      • yuk link to orthodoxwiki.org

        “They burst into the monastery and with a hatchet butchered Archimandrite Philoumenos in the form of a cross. With one vertical stroke they clove his face, with another horizontal stroke they cut his cheeks as far as his ears. His eyes were plucked out. The fingers of his right hand were cut into pieces and its thumb was hacked off. These were the fingers with which he made the sign of the Cross. The murderers were not content with the butchering of the innocent monk, but proceeded to desecrate the church as well. A crucifix was destroyed, the sacred vessels were scattered and defiled, and the church was in general subjected to sacrilege of the most appalling type.”[6]
        The piecemeal chopping of the three fingers with which he made the Sign of the Cross showed that he was tortured in an attempt to make him renounce his Orthodox Christian Faith.[note 6][4]
        The body of the Saint was handed over to the Orthodox 6 days after his massacre, but retained its flexibility and was buried in the cemetery of Mount Zion.[4] Saint Philoumenos served in the Holy Land for 46 years (1933-1979).

        link to orthodoxwiki.org

        no one was ever arrested for the murder.[10][6]