Bir al ‘Idd: Facing the Problem
Since we had arrived four days previously, I had accompanied Abu Tarek whenever he was out grazing his flock. So when an Israeli land official drove up to him & Abu Nassir, claiming that he had seen seen them grazing their sheep on the land reserved for the settlers, I knew this was untrue. He defined the dirt-track over which he had driven from the settlers’ farm as the division. We had not strayed above this line.
A short while later, an army jeep approached from the same farm. Three young soldiers exit, their rifles slung across their chests, and they confront Abu Tarek & Abu Nassir. The young recruits speak patronisingly and derogatorily to these two dignified Palestinian men. One soldier tells them that this is “Jewish” land, and they are but “children” here. He is referring to his Jewish ancestry and to the ideals that Zionist Jews hold regarding their “Biblical right” to the whole of the region. Earlier that morning, I had spoken with one of the settlers on this very subject, trying to understand the situation from his point of view. He said that they believe that God has given them not only the land that comprises Israel, but the Palestinian Territories as well. Despite the generations of Palestinians who have lived here, it is theirs to now take based on Biblical tales.
Based on this Zionist belief, the soldiers claimed that these men should’t be here at all, contradicting what the Israeli land official had said only minutes before. We were thus faced with religious ideas contrasting with the legal “rules” that are established by the Israeli courts. When I ask to see a map of the area, defining the division and allocation of the land, they claim not to have one. They then leave.
This is the sort of intimidation that Palestinians, on Palestinian land, face in their every-day life. Whilst Israel is an occupying force in the Palestinian Territories, in contravention of international law, the lives of the people here cannot be peaceful.
» A collection of photographs from Khirbet Bir al ‘Idd