On 29 Sept. 2014, the Civil Administration destroyed the internal power grid of the Khirbet a-Twayel shepherding community in the Jordan Valley. Civil Administration representatives sawed down dozens of electricity poles and cut the wires.
The community is one of dozens of shepherding communities in the Jordan Valley currently under threat of expulsion. Its 113 permanent residents, including 62 children, and another 100 or so seasonal residents have lived at the site for decades. Most of their structures were built before 1967. Their power grid was demolished as part of ongoing efforts to expel dozens of Palestinian shepherding communities from Area C and take over their land.
Footage of the incident was captured by activists with Christian Peace Makers Teams (CPT).
Local shepherd Murad Bani Fadel described what happened that day:
I live with my family in Khirbet a-Twayel, in a two-room house that has been there since the Jordanian rule [pre-1967]. We have five children: the eldest is 14 and the youngest is three months old. I make a living from raising livestock and farming.
On Monday, 29 September 2014, at around 6:00 AM, I was at home. Suddenly, I heard a lot of vehicles driving up. I went outside and saw three big bulldozers, a white Civil Administration car, and a lot of army jeeps. I was nervous, because whenever so many bulldozers and army vehicles arrive, they always leave ruins behind.
Since the beginning of the second intifada [in 2000], the Civil Administration and the army have carried out a lot of demolitions in our area because they claim it’s Area C and we have to get building permits from Israel. I watched a bulldozer take down an electricity pole, and once it was on the ground, soldiers sawed it with an electric saw. They cut the power cables, too. Then they moved on to the next pole, and so on until they reached the pole that’s connected to my house. By then my power supply was off – I guess soldiers had already cut off the village mains. I realized they were destroying our entire power grid.
Before we had electricity, we suffered a lot. A few years ago, the Belgian government funded the establishment of a power grid for our village. Our lives aren’t easy, but since then they improved a bit. Being connected to electricity allowed us to light up the roads and houses, to have TVs, and to use refrigerators and washing machines for our children’s and families’ needs. We also have medication for the livestock, like antitoxins and fertilization hormones, that has to be refrigerated. Now it might go off. I’ll have to move it all to Aqraba and store it there. We also need electricity to pump water from the well for the livestock and for ourselves. Our children grew up with electricity. I don’t know how they’ll adjust to living without it, especially those who go to school and have to do homework to every day.
A large family like mine has to do laundry almost every day. How can you wash clothes without electricity? My wife will have to wash them by hand, which is time consuming and exhausting, especially now that we have a three-month-old baby. It’s going to be difficult, and dangerous, to walk around here at night with no road lighting. In the last few years we walked around here until 11:00 PM, but now we’ll have to stay indoors after sundown.
Street lights in Khirbet a-Twayel before the destruction of the power grid, CPT, 29 Sept. 2014