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The status quo that suffocates Palestinians

on 27 Comments

In the memory of my friend

After seven years of negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis and five years of an interim agreement, Abed Qotqot, an ordinary Palestinian citizen who livid his entire life in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, decided leave this vastly overcrowded area. He moved to a piece of land he inherited from his family, located in an area occupied in June 1967 and designated as Area C according to the interim peace accord. Area C compromises 60% of West Bank in the occupied Palestine territories and it is land that Israel retains full security and administrative control over.

Abed’s piece of land is located in front of al-Walajah village, Abed’s original hometown that was displaced and destroyed during the Nakba in 1948. Abed’s land, from the Israeli point view, is located between three communities; Har Gilo and Gilo (located in West Bank area ) and Malha in West Jerusalem. The Israeli occupying authority did not give him a building permit to build a shelter, so he decided to live in an old cave. Though the area where Abed settled is part of a Palestinian town called Beit Jala and remaining part of al-Walajah, Palestinians usually need permission from the Israeli army branch called Israel Civil Administration to do work in his land.

In Abed’s case the Jerusalem municipality intervened under the pretext that the area is part of Jerusalem’s master plan. The Jerusalem municipality, which is a Jewish Israeli entity, asked Abed to move out of his parcel since he does not hold a Jerusalem residency. Abed refused and petitioned the municipality’s decision in front of an Israeli court. During the period the court was hearing the case, Abed was ordered by the judge not to change the status quo.  The status quo means; he can’t do anything in his land, while for Jerusalem municipality; it is business as usual.

Nevertheless Abed started to reclaim his land by planting it with olive trees, a permaculture garden, and added an outdoor bathroom and awning in front of the cave. Because he was not able to use tractors and machines Abed resorted to instruments like shovel and axe.  And because he was not allowed to dig a well, he has to bring water in gallons from far away.

Israeli police warned Abed multiple times for him to desist from his work. He kept telling them sarcastically; if you want to take the land take it planted with trees. Jewish settlers from the surrounding colonies threatened him by unleashing their dogs on him and many other harassment methods.

After more than a decade in the court, and after the Jerusalem municipality started developing the area by establishing a park and the government announced a settlement expansion, the verdict came out. The court verdict stated that Abed can stay in his cave but cannot alter the land, which means no water, no electricity, and no safe passage.

As a consequence of the court verdict the police and municipality demolished the bathroom, the awning and destroyed his garden.  Abed became sick after this experience, however he decided to rebuild the demolished structures. With the help of his local and international friends, he managed to rebuild part of the demolished structures after three months. However the municipality and police raided the place and demolished it again without any warning, and without a court order. Abed again became sick. He was admitted to hospital  suffering from Asphyxia and passed away. He was 54 years old when he died, and spent 14 years of them fighting Israeli colonization institutions in the court by remaining steadfast in his land. A friend of Abed’s visited him one day before he passed way, Abed told him that he wanted to go back to his land to rebuild it again. His physical strength failed but his dream did not. His progeny also wants to return to their land.

Samer Jaber
About Samer Jaber

Samer Jaber is a political activist and researcher. He is the managing director for Dar el-Karma Inc. for Media, Researches and Publication. Jaber holds a master's degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, and studied at the Kennedy School at Harvard University and MIT. He served six years' political internment in Israeli jails during the first Palestinian intifada.

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27 Responses

  1. bintbiba
    February 3, 2015, 10:40 am

    I am shaking with fury and sadness as I read the story of the brave and steadfast Abdul Fatah Abed Rabbo ! And the predators claim a love of the land ,as they desecrate with unspeakable viciousness the rightful struggle of this magnificent example of TRUE belonging and steadfastness.

    To quote ‘just’ if I may : this is soul crunching ,(I add soul mangling!!)

    I don’t pray …I don’t believe… anyway the who /what that is running this earthly show is as twisted and messed up as we lowly miserable rabble are !! I know I’m not making any sense…just too angry . Sorry, Bornajoo … couldn’t stop myself this time.

    • Bornajoo
      February 3, 2015, 6:48 pm

      Thank you Samer. What a heart and gut wrenching story. It’s difficult to find the right words to describe my feelings after reading this

      Let it all out Bintbiba!! You made perfect sense

    • ziusudra
      February 5, 2015, 8:31 am

      Greetings bintbiba,
      He was on his way filled with hope & detrermination.
      He did what he was capable of. He proved his point.
      Others will take the same route.
      PS This was his contribution for a just cause & he won out.
      He made a great personal sacrifice demonstrating how
      much his land meant to him.

      • bintbiba
        February 5, 2015, 10:19 am

        Thank you ziusudra !
        The tragedy is that he died without being able to see his beloved olive trees grow to fruition.They , lovingly embedded by his hands within his land , seemed to give his life all its meaning .!

      • ziusudra
        February 6, 2015, 4:08 am

        Greetings bintbiba,

        Shalom, Salam.
        His contribution is greater than himself; he planted the seed.

  2. just
    February 3, 2015, 10:44 am

    Thank you Samer. Thank you for remembering Abed.

    “His physical strength failed but his dream did not.”

    So young, so beautiful, so Palestinian.

    Blessings to “his progeny”. Inshallah.

    • bintbiba
      February 3, 2015, 11:51 am

      In my fury I shamefully neglected to gratefully laud Samer for his important retelling of Abed’s sad, sad story. It is there for all to see.

      Thank you Samer.

  3. amigo
    February 3, 2015, 11:53 am

    The headline could also read !!, “The status quo that will suffocate Israel”.

    Israel has a cancer eating away at it,s very core.It is malignant and there is no treatment available to halt it,s advance.Israel is like the patient who insists on going outside the hospital grounds in all kinds of weather,dragging their IV unit behind them to smoke cigarettes wearing only their pyjamas and a flimsy robe.

    Oh well.

  4. seafoid
    February 3, 2015, 12:10 pm

    “Nevertheless Abed started to reclaim his land by planting it with olive trees, a permaculture garden, and added an outdoor bathroom and awning in front of the cave. Because he was not able to use tractors and machines Abed resorted to instruments like shovel and axe. And because he was not allowed to dig a well, he has to bring water in gallons from far away. – ”


    “All the same, he saw his work as a single chapter in a much longer story. As Mackay wrote: “Whatever we do must be related to the lifetime of the city and not to our own . . . So continuity is essential, just with a critical touch here and there and a vision for the future.””

    Palestinians do that continuity very well. They are a continuous part of the life of that land.
    Abed was part of that pattern and was so disturbing to Jewish nihilists, who wanted a European tabula rasa but could never escape the trauma that brought them there in the first place.

    • bintbiba
      February 3, 2015, 12:28 pm

      That is a really beautiful tribute to Abed and what he represents, seafoid !

      ‘Noor el ayn, ya akhi !’

      • Walid
        February 3, 2015, 1:17 pm

        “Noor el ayn, ya akhi !”

        For non-Arab speakers scratching their heads, it’s loosely translated as “apple of my eye”, o my brother.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2015, 2:08 pm

        All they have is concrete and bulldozers. Very sad.

    • ziusudra
      February 5, 2015, 8:50 am

      Greetings seafoid,
      Of all the horrible scenes that i’ve viewed here in Germany of what the Nazis did to the Jews, one scene devasted me mostly: Where a Soldier constantly separates a 3/4 year old from its mother & the child keeps coming back – to no avail!-
      Abed kept coming back to his land….. admirable & very heart warming.
      He died with hope, he died well.

  5. justicewillprevail
    February 3, 2015, 1:02 pm

    Heartbreaking. Another routine day in the Kafka-Disney empire. Another death by bureaucracy, spite, malice and the mind-crushing cruelty of zionism. People will not forget or forgive this kind of treatment of a harmless man tending his own land.

  6. bintbiba
    February 3, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Walid, I thank you for the reminder that ‘never speak a strange language in the presence of others who don’t understand it” . my mother taught me that! ; )
    You are a better person than I.

    • Walid
      February 3, 2015, 1:46 pm

      I’m sure I’m not a better person than you, bintbiba, I simply thought that some may be wondering what that was about and I offered to help. Inti noor al-ayn, ya bint biba.

      • bintbiba
        February 3, 2015, 2:02 pm

        Ditto ya Walid, Ditto !!

        This term in Arabic is what seafoid used sometime ago …and seemed to be his ‘cri de guerre’ ( battle cry ?) .!!!

        You are as kind and generous as my son who bears the same name as you . <3

    • seafoid
      February 3, 2015, 2:11 pm

      Noor el ain has something essential about it.
      The IDF soldiers have sunglasses but Palestinians have noor el ain.
      It signals being alive, I think. Alive and being.

      • bintbiba
        February 4, 2015, 6:42 pm

        ……..The light showing through the soul ?

    • annie
      February 3, 2015, 4:35 pm

      bintbiba, you should keep doing it, i like it.

      • bintbiba
        February 3, 2015, 4:59 pm

        Flirting with Walid , and seafoid,,annie ?!! What will people say ,,,at my age !!.. the news was so awful today……. really got me down. A little laisser-faire was a bit of light relief. <3

  7. eljay
    February 3, 2015, 1:41 pm

    Zio-supremacism – like all forms of supremacism – is an ugly stain on humanity.

    Peace to Mr. Abed Qotqot.

  8. annie
    February 3, 2015, 4:37 pm

    this is so very sad, he died so young. it’s hard to fathom what it would be like going through this. i think i would go insane.

  9. American
    February 3, 2015, 5:10 pm

    It is impossible for me not to hate the Zionist state of Israel and all who support it.
    Every time I read something like this I hate it more.
    And dont bother telling me that makes me a ‘bad’ person…I dont care.

  10. RoHa
    February 4, 2015, 3:39 am

    C’mon, I’m sure the Israeli authorities have perfectly acceptable reasons for this, and any minute now one of the Israel apologists on MW will tell us what those reasons are, and put our minds to rest.

    • RoHa
      February 5, 2015, 8:06 pm

      Yep, any minute now.

      • RoHa
        February 8, 2015, 5:05 am

        Won’t be long. Talk among yourselves while you’re waiting.

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