by Jessica Morrison
[Note: This article is adapted from a reflection Morrison wrote two days before Winter Storm Huda swept the region, bringing with it snow, icy rain and a severe drop in temperatures that killed people in Gaza and Lebanon.]
Winter is just starting to bite here in Hebron, or Al Khalil, as Palestinians call it.
The Jaabari family live on the outskirts of Hebron, and the nearby hills are covered in Israeli settlements. Under the Oslo accords, the area is designated as ‘Area C’, where the Israeli authorities have full control. This designation was meant to be a temporary measure, but decades later, the status remains. The family has a strong flock of seventy sheep for which they had built a sturdy brick shelter and has a nursery for their thirty calves. They also have a small field in front of these where green onions grow.
The last week has been a difficult one for the Jaabari family. The weather has started to get very cold, so the animals have become more reliant on their animal shelters to keep the animals warm in the bitter nights.
Yesterday morning, an Israeli bulldozer and the military rolled up the Jaabari family’s street. In Area C, people must get permission from the Israeli authorities to build any structure. For Palestinians, in 97% of cases this permission is never given. A bulldozer can only mean that Israel has decided to demolish something.
Having had their animal shelter demolished previously, the family quickly moved all their animals to a neighbour’s property. The bulldozer entered their land, trampling and digging through their onion field. The military offered neither paperwork to justify their actions, nor an explanation. The bulldozer destroyed the animal shelter the family had invested the equivalent of $60,000AUD into building. And then they turned on their animal nursery, destroying it also.
The family makes its living by farming, so their livelihood has just been destroyed.
I heard today that there were two other demolitions in the area. Another two families, with painful stories of lives and livelihoods turned upside down. As the first snow of winter approaches, the families and their animals have a frightening week in front of them.