Thursday, February 25, 2021

Israel Seizes Bedouin Outhouse

By Emily Mulder - July 03, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [settlements] [Settlers] [demolition] [Bedouins] [Israeli army] [Displacement]

Location of confiscated outhouse in Umm al Khair, occupied West bank.  Photo credit: Emily Mulder

The confiscation of an outhouse in the Bedouin village of Umm al Khair near Hebron last week signifies just how far Israel’s policies in the West Bank extend in preventing villagers from establishing a home.

Israel’s Civil Administration, which oversees policy implementation in Area C of the West Bank, deems nearly every structure in the village illegal and subject to demolition.  

The well-established Karmel settlement next to the Bedouin village of Umm al Khair is both a deciding factor in demolition of buildings and structures, as well as an indication of the continuing inability for Bedouins residing in the West Bank to transfer control from Israel for their own infrastructural development. 

Karmel was established in 1981, after a Nahal outpost was granted civilian status. Nahal is a branch of the IDF which integrates military training with agricultural labor and settlement. The settlement has continued to grow, expanding into the land owned by residents of Umm al Khair.

The Hadelin family reported to Palestine Monitor their decision to build an outhouse next to their home to assist a relative suffering from mental handicap.  According to Haaretz, the structure was donated and erected by humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger (ACF) International.  The outhouse was removed by Israeli soldiers and security forces on June 17, the rationale being the absence of a proper permit for construction of the structure.

Preceding the erection of the outhouse, two members of the Hadelin family reported that their father was arrested by Israeli forces on Sunday June 16.  On Thursday June 20, he was released for a bail of 500 shekels.  

Misuse of Area C

The grandfather of the Hadelin children came to Umm al Khair in 1948 after being expelled from Israel. While many Bedouins fled to Jordan, their grandfather was comparatively wealthy and bought land from Palestinians in the nearby town of Yatta in exchange for camels. The family has lived there since.

Located in the South Hebron Hills, Umm al Khair is part of Area C in the West Bank. Area C makes up more than 60% of the West Bank and has been under full Israeli military and administrative control since the implementation of the Oslo Accords in 1995. The separation of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C was intended to be temporary, merely an avenue for the gradual shift of control from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. 

Israel maintains control of Area C which surrounds and isolates the densely populated “islands” of Areas A and B from one another, effectively ignoring the needs of a growing Palestinian demographic. 

Twenty years later, Israel maintains control of Area C which surrounds and isolates the densely populated “islands” of Areas A and B from one another, effectively ignoring the needs of a growing Palestinian demographic. 

Unequal policy implementation by the Civil Administration is apparent when standing on the property of the Hadelin family. The neighboring Karmel settlement is bordered by a barbed-wire fence, and consists of red-roofed homes supplemented with extensive infrastructure such as electricity, water, and paved roads. On the other side of the fence stands Umm Al Khair, sparsely developed and lacking adequate water and electricity.  

Be it a stove, bathroom, or home, Palestinian construction and development is prohibited in the majority of Area C due to its designation as “state land” or “military firing zone.” Human Rights group B'tselem reports that, “Israel’s policy in Area C violates the essential obligations of international humanitarian law, namely: to safeguard occupied territory on a temporary basis; to refrain from altering the area or exploiting its resources to benefit the occupying power; and, most importantly, to undertake to fulfill the needs of the local residents and respect their rights. 

In practice, Israeli policy utilizes Area C to aid development of Israeli settlements, provide space for military exercises, and exploit natural resources such as water for the benefit of the Israeli population rather than Palestinian population. 

A policy aimed to dishearten 

The discriminatory nature of Israeli policy in the West Bank and the proximity of settlers to the Hadelin family results in a life characterized by demoralizing harassment and imposed obstacles that prevent residents of Umm al Khair to carry on normal life.  

The Hadelin family reported to Palestine Monitor that earlier this year settlers in Karmel stole a number of sheep from their herd. Their land is in close proximity to an IDF training area, and shooting of the family’s livestock by Israeli soldiers is a regular occurrence.  Vital for both physical and economic sustenance, targeting of livestock by Israelis poses just as much hardship as demolitions for the residents of Umm al Khair.

The week before the removal of the outhouse, clashes between the Hadelin family and Israeli soldiers broke out in response to settler efforts to expand their settlement onto the family’s land.

Recent events in Umm al Khair occur in the shadow of the Prawer-Begin Plan, the first reading passed last Monday, June 24, in the Knesset 43-40.  When implemented, the plan will displace a minimum of 30,000 Bedouin, moving them from their homes into impoverished urban towns.  The bill violates a call to Israel from the UN committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to halt the eviction of Bedouin residents and to stop demolitions in unrecognized villages.

The continuation of systematic ill-treatment of Bedouins and Palestinians paints negotiations between Israel and Palestine as mere antics and meaningless diplomacy

Furthermore, in the wake of U.S. John Kerry’s recent visit to the Middle East, the continuation of systematic ill-treatment of Bedouins and Palestinians paints negotiations between Israel and Palestine as mere antics and meaningless diplomacy.   According to Peace Now’s analysis of data released from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, settlement construction in the West Bank increased by 335% from the first quarter of 2013 in comparison to the last quarter of 2012, despite U.S. requests for a settlement freeze.

Impermanent structures for permanent aspirations

The Hadelin family views the goal of Israel’s policies in Area C’s Umm al Khair, as well as the objective of settlements such as Karmel, to make life so bad for the villagers that they want to leave. 

In the case of the Hadelin family, Israeli efforts of displacement instill an immutable desire to remain on their land and pursue better lives.  Both children interviewed, ages 20 and 26, are engaged to be married, are in school and have jobs, and plan to build families in Umm al Khair.  

Even after seeing their home demolished five times during their lifetime, Israeli efforts to drive out the Hadelin family from the area have failed, the Hadelin family refusing to leave. When asked by Palestine Monitor if treatment from Israelis made him want to leave, the son said, “No, we don’t go.  This is our land.”  




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