Last week, CPT visited the Tamimi family in the H2 area of Jabal Jalis. Although the land is a short distance from the CPT office, our taxi driver took a long and convoluted route to the Tamimi’s home. I was enjoying the back roads and winding streets until my colleague pointed out the reason for our lengthy journey. We had to drive between 30 and 40 minutes because the Israeli Occupation has banned Palestinians from entering many of the adjacent areas.
When we got to the jabal, or “mountain,” we were greeted with a panoramic view of the city. But instead of a beautiful lookout, we saw Israeli soldiers and settlements on all sides. To the left lay Kiryat Arba, the first Israeli settlement established in the West Bank. On the right was another illegal settlement called Havat Gal. Directly ahead of us stood a military base, a mere 200 metres from the family’s home.
By contrast, a cheerful little swingset sat in the Tamimis’ front yard. They are planning to build a much larger playground that will benefit all the Palestinian children in the area. The family described how the playground will bring their community together and provide the kids with structured activities. If the children have a designated space to gather in large numbers, the soldiers and settlers will be less likely to provoke them.
Shaker Tamimi told us how the settlers harass his family daily. The settlers have fired tear gas through their living room window and uprooted their crops in the middle of the night. Earlier this year, when the settlers wanted to pave the road into Jabal Jalis with asphalt, they chose to do so during Eid Al-Adha, when they knew that their Palestinian neighbours would be entertaining lots of family members. “They calculate our every move,” Shaker told us. “I don’t sleep during the night anymore.”
Several years ago, Shaker returned home after grazing and milking his sheep. The next morning, eleven of the animals were dead. The settlers had scattered poison where the sheep were grazing. Shaker was at the Ministry of Agriculture, reporting the crime when he received a call to come to the hospital immediately. Eight of his children were deathly ill—they had drunk the milk from the poisoned sheep.
Fortunately, all of Shaker’s children survived, Alhamdullilah (Praise God!) But the settler violence hasn’t stopped; in fact, it’s increased since the start of COVID-19. With less international presence in the area, the settlers’ aggression has been relentless. Shaker told us he could talk 24/7 about the settlers’ harassment and still have more to say.
The settlers in Jabal Jalis won’t make the construction of a playground easy. But Shaker’s family is up to the task. “I’m not leaving this land until I’m dead,” Shaker said. “We will continue to stand up to the soldiers and settlers.”