What Happens When a Bedouin Builds a Gravel Path So His Kids Can Get to School on Rainy Days

Abu Sakr just wanted his kids not to miss school, but the story ended with his tent encampment destroyed, his son's sheep pens leveled, and his pregnant daughter rushed into a hospital after being pushed by an Israeli soldier.

Dafna Banai
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A bulldozer demolishes a building in a Bedouin village in Israel.
The demolition of a structure in a Bedouin village (illustrative).Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Dafna Banai

The military has forbidden construction in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli military and civilian control. Anyone violating this ban risks the demolition of their building, sometimes without warning. That’s why Abu Sakr and his children, who live in the Bedouin village of Al-Hadidiya in the Jordan Valley, had to work like thieves in the night to build a gravel path. They need it so the kids can get to school on rainy days.

Every week I go to the Jordan Valley with my friends from Machsom Watch. That’s how I know that, for years, the children of Al-Hadidiya lived on their own in the neighboring village of Tamoun without parental supervision. Why? Because all the routes to the central West Bank were blocked with earth mounds, checkpoints, gates, huge boulders and more. No one could enter or leave. This meant the children could not study because there is no school for them in the northern Jordan Valley.

As a result, the Jordan Valley Solidarity NGO built a shabby mudroom in the nearby village of Khirbet Samra to serve as a school. On August 10, shortly after construction was completed, the army demolished it.

From Abu Sakr’s house to the school there’s a long path, which turns into an impassable swamp during the rainy season. Abu Sakr and his sons pave the gravel path in the dead of night because they fear the strong arm of the military. In Area C, as noted, it’s forbidden to repair a path. It’s against army regulations. But on November 15, the residents of Al-Hadidiya received a stop-work order. At the request of the villagers, a court delayed its implementation until the end of this month.

Last week, however, the army violated the court order and started to destroy the path with a bulldozer. The officer at the site was seen urging his soldiers to expedite the destruction. Urgent calls to the Civil Administration revealed that the demolition was being carried out without its knowledge. An officer from the Civil Administration who arrived at the village stopped it.

Abu Sakr may have succeeded in stopping the destruction of the path, but last Thursday morning bulldozers destroyed his tent encampment, his son Ghazi’s sheep pens and his neighbor’s tent encampment. Abu Sakr’s pregnant daughter, Suzanne, who was visiting, was pushed by a soldier, fell and started to bleed. An ambulance took her to hospital.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, defense minister and the media continue to debate whether the terror attacks of recent months are an intifada or a “limited uprising.”

The writer is a member of Machsom Watch.

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