Settler Violence and Palestinian Courage – another update from Bob Birch
More updates from Bob Birch, currently stationed on a farm in the West Bank.
It is a tragic story, made all the more tragic by the fact that few in this country care about what is going on. Thank God for Australians like Bob who are making a difference.
This is Khalid, the owner of the khan and orchard where I have been staying lately. He is a very dynamic character, who speaks rapid-fire Arabic or his own special brand of English (“You, he go, stay, come my house, eat sleep, good, you come”) and so on. He is very hospitable and welcoming…….and also very tough. The settlers from Maál Shivona settlerment nearby want him out. They want his land, his orchards, his olive trees and his historic house, but most of all they want the spring which is on his land.
They have offered him millions of dollars and a US passport to sell up. When he refused they stole his horse, injured his dog, stole his tools, wrecked his car, cut his electricity supply and broke into his house repeatedly, destroying all his furniture and leaving the place a shambles, with graffiti written over the walls. Finally, they attacked at night when the family was sleeping, beating all the family members and putting his wife in hospital. During the attack the eldest son, Jamal, used a hoe to defend his mother, wounding a settler.
When the Israeli police and army arrived they arrested Khalid and Jamal. (The script could have been written by Franz Kafka.) They were jailed and ordered to pay the equivalent of $10,000 in order to secure their release, leaving them virtually penniless. A jail sentence still hangs over their heads. Of course, nothing happened to the settlers; they appear to have total immunity.
Now a European Union NGO has put up the money to erect steel doors and window shutters so that the house can withstand further settler attacks – hopefully. ISM members maintain a vigil at the farm night and day, hoping by their presence to make it safer for Khalid and his family (who, for safety, now sleep in the village).
At night one is aware of the menacing presence of the Maál Livona settlement on the nearby hill. On the opposite hillside the lights from the huge settlement of Eli are strung out for 25 kilometres, testament to the unceasing land grab which is taking place. What is happening to Khalid is not an isolated incident; all over the Occupied West Bank similar stories can be told, stories of greed and brutality being met by courage and steadfastness.
As Khalid says, “America, Europe, Australia, the whole world knows our story, and they turn their backs on us. No-one cares. All I want is my land, my house and my trees. I will never leave.”