Saturday, January 16, 2021

Existence is Resistance

By Marc Henry - October 23, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Hebron] [Settlement Expansion]

The Israeli government might have approved the construction of 31 new settlement units in the old city of Hebron, but the local Palestinians are not ready to give up.

22 million shekels. That is the budget for the building of 31 settlement units on Al Shuhada Street in Hebron; the city that was divided into two parts in 1997.
According to Hisham Sharabati, activist at Hebron Defense Committee, the new settlements may be the biggest project in Hebron since settlers started building in the city.
“This plan is empowering the Zionist colonial project in the city of Hebron, and it will contribute more to the ethnic cleansing that the Israeli authorities are behind,” Sharabati told Palestine Monitor.
While the Palestinians of Hebron are already cut off from using nearly 12 kilometres of road in the city, the new settlements will only increase the agony for the Palestinians.
“More settlers mean more restrictions. The settlers in Hebron are considered more extreme, even by the extreme right in Israel,” Sharabati said.
“We can expect more tension in the city and more attacks on the Palestinians.”
And the Palestinians are experiencing attacks on a daily basis, with the Israeli army and police as bystanders. Therefore, it is hard for the Palestinians to take up the fight against the settlers.
However, according to Sharabati, the Palestinians have other means of resistance.
“We go by the saying 'Existence is resistance’. Being there is a kind of resistance.”
60 years in the same location
Two Palestinians that are living by the 'Existence is resistance’ mantra are two brothers Nidal Fakhoury, 45, and Nassar Fakhoury, 42. Together they take care of the family business, The Oriental Hand Made Pottery Factory in Hebron.
Started by their grandfather the business has been in the hands of the family for more than 60 years.
“I grew up here in the shop, and have always been here since I was five. I learnt to [make] ceramics here,” Nidal Fakhoury told Palestine Monitor.
The small factory has been in the hands of the Fakhoury family for generations. 
The factory and shop have a special location in the old city of Hebron. Placed between an Israeli military checkpoint on the one side, and a fence separating Palestinians from the Tomb of the Patriarchs on the other, the factory faces the entrance to the synagogue. As so, the small factory represents an invisible line which the Palestinians cannot cross.
While the factory has become a small sanctuary for Palestinians, it is also causing significant problems for the two brothers.
“It is bad for business. We are being harassed all the time. During the Jewish holidays we have to close, and if something is happening in the area the military comes and demands us to close the shop,” Nidal Fakhoury said.
“Some days they won’t even let anyone pass the checkpoint and come here.”
Not giving up
Like any other Palestinian in the old city of Hebron, the two brothers are facing restrictions on a daily basis. Restrictions that makes it hard for them to keep the factory up and running.
“It is difficult for us to get our supplies to the factory because we are not allowed to bring our car but have to carry them from the checkpoint,” Nidal Fakhoury said.
“They make it hard for us to have our shops and to live here. They want us to leave Hebron.”
However, the two brothers are determined not to let the harassment get them down. The ceramic factory will be open as long as they are alive. This is despite the settlers offering not less than five million US dollars and even an open check to leave the shop.
“They would send us to America and help us open a business there, but we refused the offers,” Nidal Fakhoury said.
“It is haram [forbidden] to sell to the Jews, and if I sell my shop, it means I am selling my home and my land to the Israelis. It means we are acknowledging their right to be here.”
Uncertain future
While the Fakhoury brothers keep resisting the Israeli occupation by keeping the factory going, they both know that it might be for a limited time.
Business is not as it was, and the settlements and Israeli soldiers in the area are not helping the situation.
“Thirty years ago we had a lot of business. We could sell our ceramic as soon as it came out of the oven. Today we have to display it in our shop. There is no business like before,” Nidal Fakhoury said.
“It makes me crazy to see how everything has changed. Everything is turned upside down since I was a child and it is not for the better”, Nidal Fakhoury (left) says. 
Being in their mid-forties both brothers still have years to come at the small factory, but there is great uncertainty about the factory’s future without them.
“If our children want to take over the shop they can, but they are afraid of coming to the area. They have moved to the new city. If they don’t want to take over, the shop will close,” Nassar Fakhoury said.
“It will be a sad ending to the history, but I understand them. It is not safe for our children here.”
According to Nassar Fakhoury, there is only one solution to the situation in Hebron and in Palestine; the occupation needs to end.
“I hope the future will be without occupation. As long as there are settlements, there will be no change in Hebron or in Palestine.”

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