“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6
Some of the things I do not understand…..
2 weeks ago we visited the village of Um Fagarah. A small village of 10 families, 9 of whom live in tents or stone shacks and one in a cave. The people were warm and welcoming. Villager’s problems included lack of water, inadequate nutrition, no electricity, lack of sheep fodder, harassment from nearby settlers while shepherding sheep, and significant health concerns in both adults and children. Life is obviously difficult for these people at the best of times. Two weeks prior to our visit, a partly constructed power line project to the village was demolished by the Israeli army. Today, the army returned. They blocked the entrance to a cave and demolished a mosque, 2 one room houses, and a tent. EA’s and other internationals went to the scene but were prevented by the army from entering the village. We will return tomorrow. Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
Khirbet Ghuwein al Fauqa sits in the southernmost part of the West Bank, only metres away from the Green Line. Army bulldozers demolished the electrical infrastructure leading into the village in September. The village now has no electricity. Other problems include lack of water, lack of sheep fodder, malnutrition, harassment from nearby settlers and legal concerns around the demolition. In general, the people we spoke with were feeling extremely discouraged. There was a a palpable sense of despair and hopelessness in their voices. “It’s like we are in prison between the Green Line and the settlement.” Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
Last week, EA’s visited the community of A’Seefer in the seam zone near Beit Yatir checkpoint. Several times a week we walk with the village children through the checkpoint on their way home from school. Living conditions in the village are deplorable. An older man spoke of being ill and attempting to seek medical attention in the nearby village of Imneizil. His only transportation was by donkey, but donkeys are not allowed through the checkpoint. Too sick to walk, he turned back. Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
EA’s also visited the community of Harabat an Nabi. Families there live in ramshackle buildings, much like those found in other villages we visit. Sitting under a dripping roof (on a sunny day), one of the residents spoke bitterly about the fact that he is not permitted to put plastic over the leaking roof. Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
Early this week, while in the Jordan Valley, I visited the Bedouin village near Al Auja. Villagers live in shacks and tents with no electricity and no water. Overhead power lines and underground water infrastructure piping pass by the village to supply the neighbouring settlement, but villagers are prohibited from accessing these most basic of services. The local school was demolished last year and now there is a demolition order on the new school that is under construction, a small mud structure. Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
There are multiple demolition orders on many of the villages we visit. Living under this kind of stress exacts a steep toll – on adults and on children. As EA’s, we receive text messages on our cell phones of ongoing demolitions. Today, I received more messages than ever before, 5 in total, with 2 of them involving villages in the South Hebron Hills. Why does Israel hurt innocent people in this way? Why does the world condone Israel’s actions by its silence?
I do not understand.
As EA’s, we seek to understand. We talk, we share, we question, we wonder. Marthie from South Africa, Linda from Wales, Chris from the US, Mpumi from South Africa, Bosse from Sweden, Matti from Finland, and others….But we do not understand. Our hearts ache. The human pain is beyond our understanding. The wanton destruction of property and the intentional infliction of hardship is beyond our understanding. The world’s silence is beyond our understanding.
Maybe our place is not to seek to understand, but simply to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
As we trust more and more fully, we will find our deepest resting place in God.
From that place of trust and rest, the words of the prophet Micah lead us onward, giving us all the direction we need.
“and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,