Today we manage to get to Al Hadedeye, our plan works: to sneak in from the back before the Israeli Occupation Forces has a chance to notice and stop us again.
On the way we listen to our Jordan Valley tour guide’s explanations about the places we can see from the bus. This sets the tone and it is a serious one. About every human right is violated in this region, crimes committed are hard to imagine or comprehend.
It is a beautiful and very hot day as we make our way through the infamous military firing zone, in the distance we can see a group of about 50 soldiers running and shouting – it’s an exercise, and it’s the first time we notice that the slopes of the mountain feature fake little houses for their practice. They look just like Palestinian homes, little houses and huts all innocent in the sunshine… and our realization is that this is likely what they do, they imagine their targets are Palestinian homes. Apparently the occupation forces require an M16 to approach a Palestinian grandmother or child.
Every time Israel attacks Gaza and West Bank, their infamous weapon industry sells twice as many arms and other equipment – their “greatest selling point” being that products are “tested live”.
We see Al-Hadedeye in the distance with a settlement lurking in the background. Someone in the group suggests to replace the term “settlement” by “colony” because the difference is that the former is by nature no crime whereas the latter implies usage of force. So this colony we are looking at is a ugly and alien looking as all the others built on stolen land, taken off the real natives by force and murder. 35 illegal Israeli settlers occupy a patch of land the size of any given camp, with the difference that there are thousands of refugees cramped and perched into the same size of enclosure.
Land around the illegal settlements is oftentimes claimed as “military firing zone” but shortly after that, once locals have been driven out, turns into farmland for the illegal settlers. Stolen water used to farm stolen land – how can you help it but not boycott any produce resulting from crime upon crime?
As we approach Al Hadedeye we see a helicopter coming from the illegal settlement – it circles the area to survey. Behind us the shooting has begun.
A world power and several European countries (especially Germany) are pumping billions of their respective currency into Israel. Your tax money finances ammunition shot at Palestinian children, the bombs raining over Gaza, daily excessive military practise, development and perfection of weapons that make killing and murder nothing more but pushing a button….
In Al Hadedeye we gather in a circle and listen to Abu Zaker, a local, who tells us that whenever the illegal settlers just over the hill spot someone of his family, they call the army and report an attack or imminent threat… The shooting in the distance gets louder – it is quite surreal. We have lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine, Abu Zaker reminiscing on all him, his family, community and his people overall had and have to suffer…. We hear the sounds of spring, chickens, birds, a slight breeze… mingled with increasing sound of gunshots and explosions.
This is Palestine.
We don’t get to do the roadwork we had planned to relief this community. With the army having us on their radar, we need to avoid arrests and deportations. We also learn that someone had to cancel his plans to join us as he was interrogated for 7 hours at Tel Aviv airport after which he was made to sign a paper that he will never enter West Bank under threat of 3 months in prison.
We make our way back to the bus. Just before we reach the road uncounted soldiers coming running from the right – they appear out of nowhere, like out of some tunnel, and they yell and wave an Israeli flag. They cross the path we’re on and run uphill (some fall flat on their face) and they put up the flag.
We expect the worst but just before we get to where they are, they run back to where they came from, waving the flag, shouting.
We continue our trip to Bardala where a Playback Theatre performance is due to take place. We arrive at the school and it is buzzing with locals, especially children. Before we know it each of us has made a whole crowd of new little friends.
The Playback Theatre performance is a success, people enjoy watching their own fate re-enacted, the funny and the sad stories.
After delicious dinner at the youth centre some locals share stories and then we’re off back to Fassayel.
When we arrive, everyone looks happy, tired… it’s Palestine, there is no defeat. After listening to beautiful traditional music by our playback actors, one by one everyone goes to sleep.
Tomorrow we’re off to build a school – watch this space!