MachsomWatch: 20 Years of Activism

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We are MachsomWatch
A photograph makes accessible, proves, depicts, paints, confirms, tells. It is a witness; it is an eye. It is the horror; it is the memory. It enters your home. Without a photo, it is as if the event never happened. By the time one takes out the camera, it is often too late; the moment has passed. Either the person refuses to be photographed or a woman signals that photographing her is forbidden. Too often we failed to appreciate the power of photography, so many events remain only in our unreliable memory. This is a digital exhibition to be viewed in the comfort of your home. It invites you to join our group of deeply committed women—extraordinary women, given the current political atmosphere in Israel. Each day--winter, summer, and the seasons in between--we travel to the checkpoints, the occupied territories, and the military courts to observe, document, and thereby expose the sights that only very few want to acknowledge.

This is our organization. This is MachsomWatch. Witnessing injustice, distress, and pain, we cry out for those who have no voice: The shepherds in the Jordan Valley and those in the South Hebron Hills whose homes are destroyed, again and again, leaving their families without shelter. The workers who get up before dawn to pass through overcrowded checkpoints that are indifferent to their hardships. The farmers of the Seam Zone who have not been able to reach their lands since the construction of the Separation Barrier. All they can do is gaze at their fields, barred from harvesting their trees when they are laden with olives. Palestinians who are denied a permit to work in Israel and have no other means to support their families. Traumatized Palestinian men, women and children who are woken in the middle of the night by soldiers breaking into their homes to conduct searches and inflict physical and mental chaos. Detainees, including minors, whose trials we follow in military courts. People deprived of the ability to move from place to place, living behind fences and barriers. And all those men, women, and children whose future is being jeopardized and whose human and civil rights are being trampled on by the occupying state.

We, as Israelis, are responsible for all this injustice. We, as a people, whose history has been full of wrongs and denial of rights. We, as a nation, who were commanded to love our neighbor and the stranger amongst us. We, as women, must not be silent. We, as women, cannot be indifferent to the pain inflicted by the occupation. We must make our voices heard in the face of public silence.

As women activists, we invite all women, Jewish and Arab, to join us and work toward a society of equality for all, offering a future for our children.

The texts in this exhibition are extracted from actual MW reports.

Exhibition Curator | Alex Levac

Most of the photographs before us, which depict the routine of the occupation, were not taken by professional photographers. There is no innovation in them. What sets them apart is that they are a testament to the determination of women who share an important goal - to be a direct witness, without intermediaries, to the ongoing routine of our control over another people. The uniqueness of these women is their belief that their very persistent and stubborn presence in the Occupied Territories, in confrontations, at checkpoints and in the courts, will moderate evil. For over 20 years, the women of MachsomWatch have been present and have kept their eyes open to the humiliating and oppressive daily routine of human beings. Despite their meager numbers there is power in their perseverance and determination. It is difficult to extract the evil through photography, even more so if you are not a professional photographer. There is banality and routine in the photographs before us. But the banal routine of the occupation is the heart of evil. Any documentation of this routine is important.

Irtah Checkpoint, November 13, 2014 | Photo: Nurit Popper

A Palestinian endangers himself in order to make it to work on time

… the authorities stopped letting in workers and then, apparently because it became late and the workers feared losing their workday, shouting began as well as banging on the tin sheets. Workers coming out said: “there is chaos inside, only 3 checking stations are open. We tried calling the DCO but to no avail.”

At the exit we spoke with workers, and everyone mentioned the humiliations and the long hours they must be away from home to make a living. “I never see my kids. I get home at 7-8pm and at 2 am. I’m already out again.”

Qalandiya Checkpoint, December 10, 2017 | Photo: Bruce Schaffer

Checkpoint time

The man’s look tells it all – early rising, crowding, and pressure to leave home early enough to make it to work on time.

Qalandiya Checkpoint, December 10, 2017 | Photo: Bruce Schaffer

Crowding in Black and White

The photographer is shocked and dazed, and we who have been witnessing such sights for years, get to see them through the eyes of an occasional visitor.

Eyal Checkpoint, October 21, 2018 | Photo: Rachel Afek

“Fajar” Dawn Prayer Palestinians get up in the middle of the night in order to make it on time to their workplaces, so they pray at the checkpoint.

We arrived at 5am. During the two hours of our stay, quiet mass prayers were held. We were told about the long and exhausting workday ahead, and the need to get out early and wait in order not to miss a day’s work.

“Look around you – no one is smiling, everyone is frustrated…”

Habla Checkpoint, Ramadan Month, June 28, 2016 | Photo: Nurit Popper

One of the days of Ramadan

The gate is still locked. People wait for it to open in order to get to their workday. We are told about the difficulty of accommodating farm work to the time table dictated by the Israeli army. “If the soldiers are late in opening the gate, there is nothing to be done. If we are even one minute late, we are not allowed through. These are not reasonable conditions for tending our land. We have given up a part of the crops and are holding on to whatever we can.”

A villager from Azoun-Atme, for instance, needs to get to a distant agricultural checkpoint in order to reach his own lands located in the opposite direction. Thus, instead of 10 minutes, it takes him over an hour. Time is dictated by the Israeli army.

Qalandiya Checkpoint, December 10, 2017 | Photo: Bruce Schaffer

A mother, holding her little daughter in her arms gets through the crowds at the checkpoint

Qalandiya Checkpoint is a ‘border crossing’ terminal between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, located at the northern entrance to Jerusalem, near Qalandiya. The crossing is placed inside Jerusalem’s municipal area. It is crossed every day by about 10,000 Palestinians from Ramallah to Jerusalem and the Atarot area. Upon the erection of the Separation Fence around Jerusalem, Qalandiya Checkpoint expanded and became a major terminal for Palestinians holding permits to enter Israel and those holding Israeli IDs. Over the years, much criticism has been directed at the crowded crossing, the conditions there and the treatment that Palestinians are subjected to when crossing the checkpoint.

Abu Dis, March 16, 2006 | Photo: Neta Efroni

A woman has a hard time crossing the fence that divides Abu Dis, on her way to her daily chores

The wall built in Abu Dis blocked all the possibilities of passage from Al Azariya and Abu Dis to Ras Al Amud, a neighborhood inside the Jerusalem municipal area.

Abu Dis, 2004 | Photo: MachsomWatch

How to cross a wall

A MachsomWatchvolunteer helps a woman and her small child cross the fence that divides Abu Dis.

Abu Dis, January 16, 2003 | Photo: Neta Efroni

Men, women and children climb the fence dividing Abu Dis on their way to work or school

This is what the day in the life of inhabitants looks like when they live surrounded by a fence. Whenever they need to get to school, their workplace or simply run their everyday lives, they must cross a wall.

Hadidiyah, December 2020 | Photo: Rachel Afek

A kindergarten created at the initiative of parents of the Hadidiyah community

Hadidiyah is a small shepherd community, one of many scattered throughout the Palestinian Jordan Valley. It is located east of Roi settler-colony and is not connected to the main road.

The two dirt roads leading to Hadidiyah have been blocked for years by the settler-colony with a fence that is permanently closed. Thus, they make their daily trek via a bypass dirt track. Their residence is not “recognized” by the occupation. An innocent request such as bringing in a bulldozer to clean their sheep and goat pens is not granted. For the regime, it constitutes an attempt at illegal construction. Every stone moved is suspected. Their grazing fields border on Hemdat settler-colony in the north-east and Roi and Beqa’ot in the south and west. Some of these areas are declared firing zones and forbidden for grazing, so much friction arises with the settler-colonists and the Israeli army.

Za’atara-Tapuach Junction, May 5, 2012 | Photo: Rina Tzour

14- and 15-year-old boys from Nablus are shackled. They have been accused of carrying explosive charges. The accusation was then changed to carrying knives allegedly found in their possession.

Za’atara checkpoint is an internal checkpoint in the heart of the West Bank, at the junction of road 60 and road 505 (crossing Samaria), east of the Tapuach settler-colony. This checkpoint is the border demarcated by the Israeli army between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank, according to the fragmentation policy of the two parts as implemented since December 2005.

Fasail, Palestinian Jordan Valley, December 1, 2016 | Photo: Rachel Afek

Demolition rubble and a little girl in pink

The Israeli army has demolished the residence of two families in Fasail for the fourth time. At 9am about 50 soldiers arrived without any prior warning at the residence of one family – parents and children between 3 and 8 years of age, ordered out of their residential tent, and destroyed everything there (living quarters and kitchen). The second family (the mother and her children) saw their kitchen demolished completely, and even knives were taken to cut up the tent into small pieces. Chickens and kittens are mixed in the rubble.

Qalandiya Checkpoint, April 4, 2009 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

Nidal, who passes through this checkpoint regularly, has been arrested and accused of throwing stones

“He is no child, just short,” explained to us one of the cart owners parked near the roundabout opposite the checkpoint. From afar we saw a red-clothed child led roughly by soldiers towards the gate. When we met him close up, we saw a stylized beard on his face – the body of a child with a tormented face of an adolescent.

Tel Baruch Beach (Tel Aviv), August 2017 | Photo: Orna Naor

Beach days for Palestinian children

The project that began in 2007 and has since been taking place every summer, enables Palestinian children and their mothers from the West Bank to come to the beach and enjoy a day of freedom and fun, and meet Israelis without uniforms and weapons. In spite of their proximity to the sea, for most of them this is the first time they see the sea up close and enjoy it.

In the afternoon, the children are treated to artistic activities by professional volunteers at the A-Rabita Club in Jaffa, while a women’s circle takes place nearby. An opportunity for us to listen to the Palestinian women speak about their reality, and tell them about ourselves. The point of the project is for Israelis and Palestinians to meet and assuage, even a bit, the fear and threat that are experienced by both sides.

Azoun-Atme Checkpoint, May 26, 2011 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

A Palestinian child with Yehudit, MachsomWatch volunteer

Azoun-Atme is a Palestinian village of 1,800 inhabitants, on whose lands the settler-colonies of Sha’arei Tikqva and Oranit were built. Until 2013 the Separation Wall was built through the village and a checkpoint, manned by soldiers, enabled the villagers to cross from side to side. In 2014 this barrier was replaced by a mighty wall that surrounded the village and its lands and separated it from the greenhouses and numerous private fields near Oranit and Kefar Qassem.

Thus, “Oranit Gate 1474” was created, opened 3 times a day for the farmers. In 2016-2018 the Israeli army arbitrarily opened and closed this gate every few months, forcing the farmers to walk through a nearly inaccessible gate located 3 kilometers to the north, or to even further gates, and from there make all the way back to their own lands. In 2018 the final decision was taken by the occupation authorities and now villagers of Azoun-Atme whose greenhouses are right across the Oranit Gate were notified that it would no longer be opened, except for olive harvest time. Since then, the villagers are forced to drag themselves on foot to faraway gates that open 3 times a day for 15 minutes at a time.

Hebron, June 26. 2006 | Photo: Uri, guest of MachsomWatch

Confrontation between an Israeli soldier, a woman and girl inside Hebron

According to the Wye Plantation accords(1998), the city of Hebron was divided into two sectors: H1 under control of the Palestinian Authority, and H2 under Israeli control. Approximately 60,000 Palestinians live and 800 Jews live in H2. In the Avraham Avinu, Tel Rumeida, Hill of the Fathers and the Wholesale Market neighborhoods 60,000 Palestinians are not allowed to reach their residences by car. Permanent checkpoints have been placed between the two sectors manned by soldiers at all hours of the day and night. Dozens of other barriers separate the two sectors. The proximity of the settler-colonists creates an explosive situation and Palestinians are very frequently harassed. They are only permitted to travel on foot, and enter the Tel Rumeida quarter strictly by name lists.

Lod, September 14, 2020 | Photo: Shaul Golan

Demonstration for the Dawabshe family near the Lod District Court. Raya, spokesperson for MachsomWatch in conversation with a friend of the defendant.

The terrorist attack in the Palestinian town of Duma was perpetrated on July 31, 2015, when Amiram Ben Uliel murdered Sa’ed and Riham Dawabshe and their 1.5-year-old son Ali with fire bombs thrown at their home. Their 4-year-old son, Ahmad Dawabshe, was severely burnt.

In May 2020 Ben Uliel was indicted for the murder of the three family members and for other violations after confessing and reconstructing his crime. He later changed his mind and claimed that his confession was taken under torture. The court rejected the confessions given under special conditions at the time, but accepted the confessions taken from Ben Uliel later. He was sentenced to 3 life-sentences in prison and another 20 years imprisonment. MachsomWatch volunteers attended many of the hearings in support of the Dawabshe family.

Makam Abu Zarid, December 12, 2018 | Photo: Irit Segoli

Maqam Sheikh Abu Zarid is located on a mountain top between the villages of Yassuf and Isaka. The maqam is well-kept and maintained by the residents of the two villages. The villagers follow a patriarchal tradition and spend family and community time there. On holidays and days of family celebrations Palestinians used to make a pilgrimage to these sites and the sacred woods that surrounded them.

The site has now been appropriated by the Tapuach settlement and it has been named the Alonei Tapuach Reserve.

The Israeli takeover of the mountain ranges and peaks throughout the West Bank included many Palestinian sacred and cultural sites (Maqamim). They were annexed to the settlements by military orders and are now found in military training areas, nature reserves and antiquities sites.

Since the occupation in 1967, many Palestinian heritage sites have been recognized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and have become centers of pilgrimage for Jews, while the maqams attributed to Muslim saints have been abandoned and neglected.

In recent years MachsomWatch volunteers surveyed over 40 maqams and published its findings in Hebrew , English and Arabic.

Palestinian Jordan Valley, December 2019 | Photo: Rita Mendes-Flor

Confrontation between an activist and a settler-colonist from the outpost “Angels of Peace”

Peace activists come out every morning to accompany Palestinian shepherds to their grazing grounds and protect them from harassment by the settler- colonists.

Palestinian Jordan Valley near Umm Rashash, November 2019 | Photo: Rita Mendes-Flor

A settler-colonist from the outpost “Angels of Peace” threatens a Palestinian shepherd grazing his flock

Around 10:30 a.m., a settler-colonist youth living in the illegal outpost “Angels of Peace” came on horseback and rode straight into the flock, chasing the scared animals in all directions, which could cause pregnant sheep to miscarry. He continued to chase another 3-4 flocks this way as we followed. Soon enough, another 2 youths joined and they seemed to enjoy this pastime. These are problematic young people who dropped out of the normative school system and live in the outposts under the auspices of a “responsible adult”, letting the boys do “the dirty work” and still claiming that they are “wild weeds”.

Humsah, Palestinian Jordan Valley, February 2, 2021 | Photo: Daphne Banai

Demolitions, Humsah destroyed for the fifth time

For the fifth time the Israeli army has come to Humsah, destroying, dismantling and confiscating the inhabitants’ dwelling tents and sheep shelters. Families with children and babies remain homeless. One kilometer away from the first encampment of Humsah stood a checkpoint of soldiers and Border Policemen who did not let us proceed. We disembarked and the soldiers first tried to stop us but realized they couldn’t as we were dispersed. We saw teargas fired by soldiers at the activists. When we arrived at Humsah after a difficult climb uphill, we saw the army’s large crane truck and people loading folded tent sheets and arches, and metal rods that only a week earlier had been put up by Humsah inhabitants and our activists, following the previous demolition.

Humsah, Palestinian Jordan Valley, February 3, 2021 | Photo: Daphna Banai

An activist and a Palestinian put up a sheep pen, after the pens were demolished

Sheikh Sa’ed. April 18, 2007 | Photo: Neta Efroni

The soldier remains indifferent to the appeals of an old woman

While the Separation Fence was being erected, Sheikh Sa’ed was left on the eastern side of the fence, outside Israeli territory. This is a checkpoint for pedestrians only. It is located upon the Jerusalem municipal limit, separating the neighborhood from Jabal Mukabar. The checkpoint is manned by Border Police and private security guard companies and is active 24 hours a day. Palestinians are not allowed passage, except for residents of Jabal Mukabar or Sheikh Sa’ed who hold permits or blue (Israeli) IDs. Goods are not allowed through. There are known cases of families divided between the two neighborhoods who cannot visit each other. East Jerusalemites are allowed to cross the checkpoint only on their way to Sheikh Sa’ed but not on their way back to Jerusalem, when they are required to return through the distant A-Za’im or A-Zaitoun checkpoints.

Neve Shalom, June 10, 2017 | Photo: Nadine Ashraf

Preparation for the Green Line March, laying down a ‘green line’ to mark 15 years since the decision to erect the Separation Fence

Qalqilya area, November 5, 2018 | Photo: Rachel Afek

A study tour of students from the Harduf School

Two armored buses filled with students, educators, their principal and other companions arrived as part of their program to get acquainted with various groups in Israeli society. Like the Ministry of Education’s program “Israeli Trip” but accommodating the spirit of the anthroposophical educators at Harduf.

The program is constructed to have the students meet major figures, organizations, and places from the north to the southern communities near the Gaza Strip, within one week. They met with poet Dareen Tatour who, their teacher said, was inspiring. After their meeting with us they drove to a yeshiva at the Eli settler-colony, and from there they continued to Sufa near Gaza, including a sleep-over.

We were told that the students largely define themselves as leftists, but in fact express the present Israeli consensus which does not really differentiate between left and right.

Na’alin, Saturday October 19, 2019 | Photo: Rachel Afek

Every year during the olive harvest, MachsomWatch volunteers participate and their presence usually protects the Palestinians from the settler-colonists

We were invited by a Na’alin family to help them with the olive harvest. The family owns land outside the fence and inside as well. Requests which Na’alin farmers presented this year to harvest their olive groves beyond the fence were rejected, and so in fact a large part of the crop was not harvested. Nor do they employ anyone to pick for them, apparently, this is not lucrative. As we know, the fence is erected in the midst of the village’s farmland, and when requests are rejected the second year in a row, this means that these lands might be declared un-tended and will be confiscated by Ottoman (Turkish rule) laws convenient for the Israeli occupation regime.

Kiryat Arba, Shavuoth 2016 | Photo: Rita Mendes-Flor

Palestinian farmers near settler-colony Kiryat Arba (adjacent to Hebron), harvesting their small field

Palestinian Jordan Valley, Spring 2020 | Photo: Burhan B’sharat

A donkey carries a newborn lamb

About 15,000 Palestinians are scattered in small shepherd communities in the Jordan Valley. These are people living under harsh duress. The Israeli army has declared parts of their habitat ‘firing zones’, and army maneuvers involve many hours of displacement from their dwellings in the area’s searing heat and freezing cold. Furthermore, vandals from the illegal outposts erected in the shepherds’ grazing grounds and the army’s firing zones incessantly harass them.

The abundant ground water belongs to Mekorot (Israeli water authority) and is not available for Palestinians of the Jordan Valley. They are forced to purchase water at steep prices and transport it for great distances in water tankers.

Hamra, Palestinian Jordan Valley, September 15, 2020 | Photo: Nurit Popper

MachsomWatch volunteer Daphne Banai speaks with a policeman during the usual confrontations in the Palesitnian Jordan Valley between Palestinian shepherds, Jewish settler-colonists and the Israeli army who usually supports the settler-colonists

The woman-officer told the Palestinian shepherd that he is inside a firing zone and must leave immediately. After a short argument during which she kept waving plastic shackles and a blindfold at him and said that he is under custody, he went to collect his flock to go elsewhere. Apparently, he did this too slowly for her taste, and she wished to arrest him and placed the shackle on his hands.

The shepherd’s argument that they have been grazing here for 40 years already, that two days ago the army was here and said nothing – all this fell upon deaf ears. She came for one purpose only – to arrest the shepherd at the bidding of settler-colonists from the Hamra settler-colony.

The soldiers left and then the policeman softened. First he said he would release the fellow at the main junction, so we said we’d come there with them. Then he gave in and released the shepherd on the spot. But he asked to speak to him in private and told him that now he has his personal data, and if he hears that the Israelis complain about him again, he will arrest him for 3 months. Ever since, the guy is traumatized.

We then drove to Z’s family (above the Hamra Checkpoint) and heard that officials of the Civil Administration had ‘visited’ them, took pictures and threatened to demolish the home of the only son (one of 8) who still lived there in order to help the elderly father with his farming. The rest have left because of repeated demolitions.

Neve Shalom, June 10, 2017 | Photo: Nadine Ashraf

The Green Line March, marking 15 years since the decision to erect the Separation Fence. The march is meant to remind the public of the past existence of a ‘green line’

Qalandiya Checkpoint, September 11, 2009 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

Third Ramadan Friday, women are pushed towards the barbed wires in order to be inspected. The crowding is unbearable

This is the story of women who ventured out early in the morning, headed for their holy site in order to pray and fulfill their religious duties. It’s the story of thousands of women who lead a hard life and have come from afar, and even when their hopes were shattered, did not give up and return home but knelt where they were and prayed, upon the filthy ground in front of the refugee camp. When their prayer was over, they continued standing close together and yelled at the occupiers letting out their anger, their rage at the injustice they suffer. And even as thousands of people were already making their way back from the Friday prayers at Al Aqsa, they were still standing there, as if waiting for a miracle that was not forthcoming.

Qalandiya Checkpoint, September 3, 2010, Fourth Ramadan Friday | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

A Palestinian woman trying to get to the hospital

65-year-old Ayisha, resident of the Al’amari refugee camp, is a lone woman, deserted by her husband who moved to Kuwait, where he married another woman. We found her facing the locked turnstiles, trembling and perspiring. She shows her neck, swollen because of her dysfunctional thyroid, and her papers and documents describing her medical condition. From the papers she showed, we learnt that she also holds a special UNWRA card proving her dire economic situation. Ayisha wished to reach the Augusta Victoria Hospital where she had been treated in the past, but had not a transit permit. Only after 50 minutes of our ‘bothering’ the Civil Administration officials, without the system having to violate its own instructions not to allow through anyone without a permit, a solution was improvised, and a Red Crescent team came and took her for treatment at a hospital in the West Bank.

Jab’a Checkpoint, March 27, 2011 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

A young Palestinian detainee, blindfolded, hands shackled behind his back

Question: “Why is this young man sitting here shackled?” Answer: “He is suspect”. Question: “Of what?” Answer: “I’ll release him soon.” Question: “So now he’s no longer suspect?” Answer: “I get my orders from above.”

At the side of the checkpoint stood the young man, his back leaning against the wall, blindfolded, his hands shackled behind his back with plastic restraints. From the facts we gathered it appeared that his arrest was a local initiative and not by order of higher echelons. There really was no excuse for detaining the guy. In fact, his ID was not taken and his personal data not even checked.

Apparently, he was a random victim, caught at noon by the Nahal soldiers manning the checkpoint.

It was obvious from the way he stood that the man was suffering real pain. He stood with his back arched forward, trying to ease the pressure. The tension of the plastic restraints cut into the flesh and caused swelling, making it difficult to release him. For over 10 minutes the soldiers tried to get a knife in between his hands to release them and there was not enough room. When he was finally released and sent away, they warned him not to speak with us.

Fasail, Palestinian Jordan Valley, September 10. 2015 | Photo: Nurit Popper

Demolitions and a baby whose future is unclear

On August 18, 2015, the Israeli army demolished the residences of 6 families in Fasail and left dozens of people, most of them children and babies, exposed to the searing sun of August, when the temperatures soar to over 40 degrees centigrade.

Since the bulldozers destroyed their homes, they have been living among the rubble, the crooked metal rods and torn nylon sheets that had been their home and shelter.

They live outside in the extreme heat, crowded in the shade of 3-4 trees hiding from the sun, and breathing dust all summer. In Fasail the dust is not the worst problem.

"What is dusty air compared to the repeated loss of home and protection from the terrible weather and desert animals? And what next? When the rains and winds arrive in another month or two, how shall we protect 10-month-old Ahmad, and if we put up a shelter, when will the bulldozers return and their operators – indifferent to human suffering – and trample everything again?"

Fasail, Palestinian Jordan Valley, January 2019 | Photo: Nurit Popper

Tahreer’s daughters and in the background, the encampment demolished by the Israeli army

The father told us that the soldier yelled at him – “I have no time for your whining” – while cutting up the baby daughter’s blanket. The occupation forces demolished the shelter of a family with 5 small children.

Pipes, warped tin plates and some broken planks that until Thursday morning had been the family’s residence. A military force of 10 vehicles (according to the father) arrived that morning and demolished the family’s measly shelter: two parents and 5 children, the eldest 11 years old, the youngest 4-months old. Homeless and in the midst of a winter gale, they were exposed to rains and the cold wind,

Originally, O’s family is from Arad. After the expulsion in 1948, while wandering and searching for a place to put up their tents, the family members arrived at the empty desert, where now the settler-colony of Ma’ale Adumim is located. The family had to leave once more when expelled from there after 1967. Then they settled in Fasail.

Bardala, Palestinian Jordan Valley, May 9, 2017 | Photo: Nurit Popper

A Palestinian farmer gathering dried vegetables because of the lack of water for Palestinians in the area

We met with the village representatives on the issue of water, and here’s what we were told: Bardala is located inside Area B, and still Mekorot (Israeli water authority) dug several wells in the village and has been pumping huge amounts of water from these wells. The villagers are not allowed to pump water. They say that in 1972, 6 heads of families in the village were summoned to Beit El and were made to sign an “agreement” to close all their water wells, and that only Mekorot would be allowed to pump water there. In return, Mekorot would give them the amount of water they had pumped until then, namely 240 cub.m. an hour, at the price of 14 agorot a cub.m.

Over the years Mekorot has not considered the natural growth of the population, and unilaterally worsened the agreement conditions. First of all, they lessened the water allotment to 100 cub.m. an hour, hardly enough. Every farmer had to decide which part of his land to stop tending. We saw fields where crops simply yellowed and dried up.

In 1988 the price was raised from 14 to 50 agorot per cub.m. The villagers refused to pay it and the Palestinian Authority pays in their stead. According to the Oslo accords the Palestinians are allowed to continue pumping water from all existing wells, and dig another 30-40 wells, mostly in the Palestinian Jordan Valley. In fact – much less has been done.

Khalat Makhoul, August 20, 2013 | Photo: Nurit Popper

Tiny Kareem with cabbage

Some days ago, we were told that the Israeli Supreme Court would discuss the request of the Khalat Makhoul villagers to recognize the shanties and sheep pens in which they and their livestock reside. Solberg is the one who in August 2013 ruled the demolition the village, and the action took place on September 6, 2016. The village was totally razed. The lives of men, women, children and the elderly as well as animals were blown up by the bulldozer. Human beings whose sole sin was not to be born to the ruling master race were left out in the searing sun or the freezing cold to collect mats, pots, school bags, pencils and medication scattered all around. Whoever has never seen people gathered around warped metal rods, torn nylon sheets and crushed tin plates, never witnessed the desperate void in their eyes, will never understand this.

Khalat Makhoul, August 25, 2016 | Photo: Nurit Popper

Interior of a Palestinian shepherd’s tent. Beautiful Rina hides her face from the camera

Qalandiya Checkpoint, August 12, 2011 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

An exhausted Palestinian family at the checkpoint

On the morning of the third Ramadan Friday, passage instructions were changed. The criteria were suddenly stricter and prayer permits were rescinded. 50 years became the minimum age for passage. People – even just a few days younger, men and women, with or without permits – were rejected. Thousands at the gates of Qalandiya Checkpoint even in the early morning hours gave up and left. Many men who until yesterday evening were old enough to cross, ran around helpless among the openings, holding their documents for proof, and trying for the second, third and even fourth time. Even those whose home is in East Jerusalem had a hard time getting back home. “Not yet 50 years of age” was the key phrase.

Hebron, The Pharmacy Checkpoint, June 26, 2006 | Photo: Uri, guest of MachsomWatch

Confrontation between soldiers and schoolgirls on the way to school. The soldier has no scruples pointing his gun in their direction

Upon entering the school, we already saw remains of large stones strewn along the path. Principal Reem welcomes us and tells us that on Sunday, at dawn, the settler-colonists noticed that the regular guard was not present in the school area (his family was mourning).

They entered, broke the decorative fence and threw the stones on the pavement. They ruined the new garden and uprooted all the plants out of the flower pots. The army, close-by, did not hear anything – it says – and therefore did not intervene. Reem photographed all the damages and showed us the photos. In view of their “success” on Sunday, boys and youths of the settler-colony returned on Monday, backed up by a few adults, climbed the old steps with axes and broke the water pipe leading to the school. They cursed and yelled, and made ugly gestures of slaughter. Reem photographed again and this time summoned the police that dispersed this chaos after about half an hour.

Huwwara, November 21, 2007 | Photo: Tamar Fleishman

Detainees held at the ‘detention post’ in the checkpoint, another expression of “Palestinian time” that belongs to the occupier

15:30 – Huwwara, very cold and wet. The checkpoint is filled to bursting. Waiting time – about two and a half hours. There is a DCO representative present who, with our encouragement, tries as much as he can to take part and hurry up the inspections. Two Palestinians are detained in the hold. One since 11am (released at 4:15pm) was detained because according to the soldiers, he tried to avoid inspection. Much pressure and tension at the checkpoint. This does not cease as we leave at 5:30 pm.

Abu Dis, January 11, 2005 | Photo: Dalia Kave

Along the wall at Abu Dis women, overloaded with bags, seek an easy passage

An unbelievable sight – the concrete slabs that once seemed to be “the end of the world” turn in our presence into a mighty wall, high “up to the sky”. It’s hard to express the horror in words. The Abu Dis inhabitants we met were boiling with anger at us. Who else is there nearly every day?

Abu Dis, November 15, 2003 | Photo: Magdalena Hefetz

A soldier prevents Palestinians from passing, as they seek alternative routes to Jerusalem

Upon our arrival we discovered that the block which people had moved in order to climb the wall had been replaced. We saw a couple passing their children through a crack in the wall. We tried to help a heavy set woman push her way in between two mobile concrete barriers, but to no avail. We met a woman living nearby who showed us the trail through a hotel as well as the fence (which is part of the large Separation Wall growing more threatening every day). The entire area behind the hotel is filled with high concrete slabs. The local residents are frustrated, desperate and can only wait to see what’s next.

Abu Dis, June 26, 2005 | Photo: Neta Efroni

The gate is locked and Abu Dis residents cross through a narrow opening in the fence The gate is locked and Abu Dis residents cross through a narrow opening in the fence

The Separation Fence | Various photographers. Editing: Michal Ben Ze’ev

The Separation Fence

For 18 years now, this barrier has been taking over Palestinians’ everyday life, separating families, distancing Palestinians from their district urban center where they were accustomed to seek medical care and sell their wares, do their shopping etc. 65% of this fence trespasses into Palestinian land and does not enable passage of farmers wishing to tend their fields.

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