Um Faqarah, What Israel destroys we rebuild…
Photo Blog by Eloise Bollack / Wafa Images
Secluded on a hilltop, 45 kilometers south of Hebron, Um Faqarah is one of a dozen hamlets in Firing Zone 918 threatened with displacement by the Israeli Civil Administration. In July 2012, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the expulsion and demolition of eight villages in the South Hebron Hills, claiming the zone to be vital for Israeli army training exercises.
Settled on this land since the end of the British mandate and perpetuating a cave dwelling lifestyle, the Palestinian community of Um Faqarah has faced greater and greater obstructions over the past thirty years, since Israeli illegal settlements were first established in the area. Restrictions on movement, the poisoning of flocks, attacks by settlers, building prohibitions on any structures or infrastructure, housing demolitions, arbitrary detentions; the Israeli civil administration and forces impose draconian conditions on the village’s 160 residents.
The Firing Zone has no physical infrastructure: neither paved roads, nor electricity, running-water, and a sewage system. Inhabitants live in dug caves, tents and a scattering of bricks houses. In 2007, the community decided to build a new mosque and a 60m² brick house. In 2011, they intended to build utility poles to connect to the Palestinian power grid. But on 4 November 2011, the Israeli Forces demolished six electrical pylons, including two located inside the village. Twenty days later, they demolished the mosque and house built in 2007, a cattle shed, the generator building, and arrested two girls. UN-OCHA subsequently delivered three mobile houses, which almost immediately received demolition orders.
Tuesday, December 4 at 6:30 am, two bulldozers accompanied by a border police vehicle, four District Coordination Office (DCO) vehicles and five Israeli army vehicles arrived in the village to demolish the mosque. This was the only concrete building where the community could gather. It was also used as a school for young children who cannot make the four kilometer trek to reach school in the nearby village of al-Tuwani...
Whilst the surrounding illegal settlements and outposts are supplied with all necessary infrastructure, the communities of the Firing Zone are deprived of the very basic ones.