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From the field

Authorities continue to harass al-Hadidiyah community

Update: On 10 December 2015 Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) issued an interim injunction in the petition filed by families from al-Hadidiyah. The injunction orders authorities not to demolish the families’ tents. On 30 December 2015 the HCJ ruled, with the agreement of the petitioners and the state, that as long as the residents erect no new structures or implement changes in extant structures, no demolitions will be carried out until further notice. The residents’ petition is scheduled to be heard in February 2016.

On 30 November 2015, Civil Administration personnel and soldiers came to the al-Hadidiyah community in the northern Jordan Valley equipped with a crane and a truck and confiscated ten tents. The tents had been given to the community by aid organizations, after a 26 November demolition in which tents housing two families with a total of 15 members, including four minors, and seven structures used for livestock and storage were destroyed. Residents were already living in four of the tents confiscated yesterday, but did not have time to erect the other six. Last Saturday, 28 November, before the confiscation, military and Civil Administration personnel came to the community and destroyed two tents erected by one of the families left homeless by the demolition two days earlier. These families had already lost their homes in a 2011 demolition, and were provided with new ones by humanitarian organizations.

Members of the community next to the contents of one of the homes demolished by the Civil Administration. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, 26 November 2015
Members of the community next to the contents of one of the homes demolished by the Civil Administration. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, 26 November 2015

In addition, on Wednesday, 25 November, military personnel came with a bulldozer and began to dig up the dirt road leading to the community. At some point, Civil Administration personnel arrived and ordered to stop the work. However, by then a section about one kilometer long had already been destroyed. The dirt road was originally in very poor condition and the residents had begun to fix it with international help, in order to improve access to the community and enable the residents, who number approximately 90, to come and go freely. On 16 November, Civil Administration personnel served the residents with a stop-work order noting that on 23 November, the supervisory subcommittee of the Civil Administration would discuss the destruction of the dirt road. After the community’s lawyer requested time to obtain the necessary documents for legalizing the construction, the subcommittee announced a freeze on the demolition order and scheduled another discussion for 31 December 2015. Nonetheless, on 25 November a section of the road was destroyed as noted above, severely impairing access to the community. As a result, many of the children, who attend school at the village of Tammun, have to stay with relatives in the village during the week. The destroyed road also makes access to medical care and transfer of supplies very difficult.

Khadijeh Bsharat, a 59-year-old resident of the community, told B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh about life in al-Hadidiyah and the residents’ hopes for the now-impaired dirt road:

Khadijeh Bsharat next to her tent in al-Hadidiyah. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, 25 November 2015I have eleven children with my husband, who passed away this year, but only one of them lives with me in al-Hadidiyah. The others have all left for other places in the area. There is nothing here, it’s a tough place in summer and in winter, and life here is like a dark night. In winter it becomes a real nightmare because the road leading here is not paved and the rain messes it up. We remain disconnected from the world for months. We depend on tractors to bring us basic supplies once in a while, because that’s the only way to make it through all the water and mud around here. We use our cellphones to call other residents in the area and to ask the Tubas District authorities for help, but no one comes because the road is impossible to cross.

Sick residents might die before they make it to the main road and from there to a doctor. When someone is sick, we send him by tractor or riding on an animal to the safer areas, and he stays with relatives in Tammun until he gets better. Even ambulances can’t get here. I have chronic illnesses and in winter it’s really life-threatening to be here. Sometimes I stay with one of my married children in Tammun, away from my livestock, until I’m well again. It makes me very anxious and I worry about the livestock and the belongings I left behind. Al-Hadidiyah is a cruel place to live.

A month ago, we were very happy to hear that the dirt road was going to be fixed and paved. That could really improve our lives. Some of the residents, with outside help, began working on it and I can’t describe how happy we all were. We said to each other that life would be better and we would be able to get from place to place in winter and in summer.

The problem is that the authorities don’t want us to live happily and raise our children. Before dawn, their bulldozers began raking up the road, taking our hopes with it. I don’t know why they build and plant seeds in the settlement of Ro’i next to us and have streets and running water. No one bothers them. They’re considered human and we aren’t.

They raked up the road and now it will be muddy and very hard to cross again. We can’t use the paths that run through the hills because the military trains there and they’re full of ammunition duds. We don’t know what to do. After the work on the road began, I spoke to my sons and daughters and told them the road would be fixed, so they wouldn’t have any excuse not to visit me anymore. I told them all that the road was better and they had to visit me and take care of me. But what can I tell them now? I don’t want them to risk their lives coming through the mud, streaming water and hills.

My neighbors and I talked about how after the road was fixed, our children and grandchildren could come and live here. Because they go to school far away, they stay most of the time with relatives in Tammun and we miss them very much. If the road gets fixed, the bus that picks up the children from the various tent communities could pass through al-Hadidiyah too, take our children to nearby schools in the Jordan Valley and bring them back at the end of the day. But our hopes have been shattered.

Military digger raking up the repaired dirt road. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, 25 November 2015
Military digger raking up the repaired dirt road. Photo: ‘Aref Daraghmeh, 25 November 2015

The Israeli authorities’ continued harassment of the al-Hadidiyah community is part of ongoing efforts by the Civil Administration and by the military to expel Palestinian communities from Area C. This government policy, systematically pursued for years in contravention of international humanitarian law, constitutes the forcible transfer of protected persons inside the occupied territory, whether directly through home demolitions, or indirectly, by creating unlivable conditions.