Five houses were demolished, yet only the issue of the flattened taboun bread oven serves before the Israeli court. A very dear friend of mine is in the West Bank of Palestine for the third time. To be more specific, she is in the South Hebron Hills. Read her riveting, shocking account of what happened to the community she knows so well.
Last week I wrote about my young friend living in a rural village whose home was at risk of demolition. I deliberately did not include her name or the location of her village so as not to jeopardize the slim hope they held that this demolition could be avoided.
Yesterday, the villagers received word from their lawyers that they had exhausted all legal means to save the 4 homes in the village that were at greatest risk. The only option open to them was to submit a fee of 1000 NIS per house (approximately $350 $Cdn) before Thursday of this week to apply for mercy from a judge. The villagers were unable to pay the fee. Today, we were thinking about how we could help them raise this money when we received word that the Israeli military and bulldozers had arrived in their South Hebron Hills village of Um al…
They gave us their testimony, freely, surrounded by their relatives and using a translator, knowing we would tell the world. The two Palestinian girls, one 21, the other 17, were brutalized for no reason on Thanksgiving Day in the southern part of the West Bank.
The young woman, Sausan, was in a cave dwelling with three children when she heard the sounds of machinery and voices. She came out and saw the bulldozers and she quickly got the children out of the cave. She started screaming and ran to get some things out of her house, which she could see was about to be demolished. An Israeli soldier pushed her and told her to stop, but she kept moving. He pulled and dragged her to a place where they sprayed some kind of spray in her eyes and mouth at very close range. She fainted to the ground then.
When she woke up, the soldiers were all around her. They were going to arrest her. When her mother protested, they pushed her mother to the ground, breaking her leg. By now the young woman’s eyes, affected by the spray, hurt so badly that she cried, “Give me water for my eyes.” A soldier put a very little bit of water in her eyes so he could have a friend take a photo of him doing so, but then wouldn’t give her any more.
The above is a quote from fellow EA Chris Cowan’s blog. Chris is from the United States and worked in the Southern Hebron Hills in the West Bank where this incident happened. She had to wait for the court hearings to be finished before she could publish Sausan’s testimony.
….When the bulldozer pulled up to the front of the family’s home, a solid stone house, his 19 year old daughter Sausan realized what was about to happen. She tried desperately to get some of the family belongings out of the house before the soldiers began this part of their destruction. That did not go over well with the soldiers. They stopped her from going into the house, they restrained her and then they administered a gas that rendered her unconscious. As she lay on the ground, her mother, Haleeni (Mahmoud`s wife), went to attend to her.
That also did not go over well with the soldiers.
As Haleeni attempted to get to Sausan, a soldier forcefully pushed her away. Haleeni lost her balance and fell against either a rock or the bulldozer, breaking her leg in the process. As Sausan lay on the ground, still unconscious, she was handcuffed. Mahmoud watched all of this, completely unable to help.
After regaining consciousness, both Sausan and one of her relatives, a 17 year old girl Amel, were arrested and taken away by soldiers in army vehicles. As of Friday at 5pm, villagers had no idea where these two young girls are, how to contact them, what charges were laid against them (if any), when they will see them again or how to help them. They too, know the reputation of Israeli jails and their treatment of Palestinian prisoners…