Terrorism: Israel in Action
Caution: This article contains stories of horror. If you choose to read it, understand that you will be changed.
The Israeli Army (IDF) demolition crew rumbled its way through the South Hebron Hills on Thursday, leaving a sea of pain in its wake.
They arrived in the village of Susiya and demolished a residential tent, leaving 8 people homeless.
The tent had been located on a hilltop, a strategically desirable place for the Israeli’s to build settlement outposts. There was a demolition order on this tent, issued because the Israeli’s allege it was built on state owned land. The Palestinian people believe it is their land. The day of the demolition, an aid group arrived and a temporary tent was erected for the family.
The next day 6 soldiers came back to the demolition site. Their presence brought anxiety to the family and to all who had gathered to offer support. They wandered around, they went into another family’s tent, they checked into other buildings, and they spoke at length with a settler who had trespassed onto the property. They also spoke to the family and ordered the temporary tent to be moved. Apparently, a temporary structure cannot be placed within 30 metres of a demolition site.
The pain of this demolition was evident in the faces of all around. Old men appeared frustrated, children were crying, women looked to be at their wits end. How do you deal with the upset of all this? How do you deal with the fact that your home has been intentionally destroyed and now those who have destroyed it have returned to tell you that your temporary home must now be dismantled and moved as well? How do you deal with the chaos, with the commotion? How do you deal with your anger? How do you deal with the fear you carry, the one that is afraid that if anyone, ANYONE, makes the slightest wrong move or says what they really think and feel, that they will be arrested and taken away? You know, deep in your heart, either through personal experience or through the experience of loved ones, that life in an Israeli jail is cruel and horrible. That the treatment Palestinians receive there is inhumane and brutal. You cannot, absolutely cannot, risk arrest.
A demolition crew also arrived that morning in the village of Um Fagarah. No demolition order had been issued. Imagine waking up, going about your normal morning routine, and all of a sudden the army trucks, soldiers and bulldozers arrive. That’s exactly what happened Thursday morning in Um Fagarah. When all was said and done, the community mosque and 5 homes were demolished leaving 43 people homeless. Yes, that’s right. You read it correctly. 43 people. 43 people who no longer have a home to live in.
Also damaged was the community`s sole generator. There is no electricity in Um Fagarah. A new electrical transmission system was being built to bring electricity to the village, but it was demolished by the army just over a month ago.
One man name Mahmoud spoke with us at length the following day, his face and his voice unable to hide his deep distress. He had gone through extensive court proceedings 6 years ago to ensure that he had all the necessary papers for his house and was assured that all was well. In spite of that, his house was demolished on Thursday morning.
When the bulldozer pulled up to the front of the family’s home, a solid stone house, his 19 year old daughter Sausan realized what was about to happen. She tried desperately to get some of the family belongings out of the house before the soldiers began this part of their destruction. That did not go over well with the soldiers. They stopped her from going into the house, they restrained her and then they administered a gas that rendered her unconscious. As she lay on the ground, her mother, Haleemi (Mahmoud`s wife), went to attend to her. That also did not go over well with the soldiers. As Haleeni attempted to get to Sausan, a soldier forcefully pushed her away. Haleeni lost her balance and fell against either a rock or the bulldozer, breaking her leg in the process. As Sausan lay on the ground, still unconscious, she was handcuffed. Mahmoud watched all of this, completely unable to help. After regaining consciousness, both Sausan and one of her relatives, a 17 year old girl Amel, were arrested and taken away by soldiers in army vehicles. As of Friday at 5pm, villagers had no idea where these 2 young girls are, how to contact them, what charges were laid against them (if any), when they will see them again or how to help them. They too, know the reputation of Israeli jails and their treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Mahmoud took us to visit with his wife, Haleemi. She sat wrapped in a blanket in a neighbour’s home on a mattress on the floor, her foot bandaged and elevated. Her mother and other women sat with her. She had just been interviewed by Palestinian TV. I knelt down to speak with her. We took each other’s hand and looked into each other’s face. There was such agony in her eyes. What do you say in this kind of situation? What can you say in this kind of situation? In the midst of such deep pain, hearts meet. The heart of one speaks to the heart of the other. Words, in the end, are superfluous. But as human beings, we try to convey our feelings. Through an interpreter, I said what I could. I told her that I was so very sorry that this had happened, that it was terribly wrong, and that I believed that God loves her. She nodded, and looking upwards said the word “Allah.” Yes, I nodded. In the midst of this, Allah indeed is present. In the midst of suffering, God is with us.
As a mother, I cannot imagine this woman’s agony.
The harsh reality is that this state sanctioned brutality happens several times a month across the West Bank to hundreds of innocent victims.
This is not a story of fiction. It is true. All who have read it now know what has happened. If we continue in silence, are we not complicit in this family’s suffering, and in the suffering of countless others who also endure this brutality at the hands of the State of Israel? Make no mistake about it….this is terrorism, enacted against those who are among the most vulnerable. Didn’t Jesus have something to say about standing with the oppressed and the downtrodden?
Peace, Salaam, Shalom