You might wonder the significance of what appears to be just another pile of gravel. It looks pretty ordinary. But to the people of the South Hebron Hills village of Wadi J’Hesh, this pile of gravel has proven to be a significant intrusion on their way of life and livelihood. It blocks access into their village from the main road. Access to their village now must happen over a long and rocky road, a road that by our North American standards would only be considered passable by the hardiest of 4 wheel drive vehicles with the toughest of tires. An inconvenience for the villagers for sure, but it’s also far more than that. In an area that is chronically dry,water for both people and livestock must be purchased and trucked in to be stored in underground cisterns. The water truck driver is reluctant to make the journey over that treacherous road and current water supplies in the village are dwindling.
The gravel was recently moved onto the primary entrance road to the village by the Israeli Defense Force, (IDF) – the Israeli army, for the purpose of blockading the road. There are IDF lookout towers dotted along the main highway. The village people know that if they were to move the pile of gravel off of their road there would be serious repercussions – either arrests, other forms of harassment, or the gravel pile would be replaced by any even larger impediment to travel. I asked them why didn’t they take a water tank and truck out to the road to meet the water delivery truck and transfer the water over the gravel pile by hose from the delivery truck to their truck. Their response was that they would be seen by the army personnel manning the lookout towers and an army truck would quickly come along to stop them. Stopped vehicles along the road always brings prompt attention from the army whose soldiers are not friendly to Palestinians. For these villagers, this is a real but unwanted part of life as they attempt to eke out a living on their land in this time of occupation.
It hurts to see such unnecessary suffering.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,