Umm al-Khair and Hajj Suleiman’s Funeral

Text by David Shulman
Photographs by Margaret Olin

Touching Photographs, January 20, 2022

He was like one of those rocky hills in South Hebron, a living, breathing, feeling mass of sunlight, rain, wind, earth, and stone.  Though he wasn’t all that tall, he always dwarfed everyone around him. The soldiers and the border police were afraid of him, because he told them the truth and gave no quarter.  

He was unafraid. He hated violence. Israel hurt him into fiery protest—everywhere where wrong was being done, he was there, that is, everywhere in South Hebron. Countless times he faced the soldiers down and shamed them with his words. He was the father of our good friend, ‘Id. I’ve known him for close to twenty years. I thought he was indestructible. I was wrong. They got him. He died a particularly horrible death at the hands of his enemies. His name was Hajj Suleiman Hadhalin.

The office of Dove, an Italian NGO, Al Twani, South Hebron Hills, Occupied Palestine.

I last saw him about a month ago, at Tuba, where, as so often, the soldiers had arrested him. He had turned up to harangue them for what they were doing to the people of Tuba. They had him sitting, handcuffed, for some hours in an army jeep with a soldier. The soldier was sick and at one point passed out. Hajj Suleiman, true to character, managed somehow to catch the soldier’s head and hold it in his hands before it collided with the metal dashboard.

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Iconic Palestinian activist dies after being run over by Israeli forces

Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin dies at Hebron hospital two weeks after police truck ran him over


Suleiman al-Hathalin pictured in a protests against settlements and land confiscation, near Yatta village south of Hebron city in the occupied West Bank, on 15 January 2021 (AFP)

Shatha Hammad, Middle East Eye,17 January 2022

Ramallah, occupied Palestine — Prominent Palestinian activist Suleiman al-Hathalin succumbed on Monday to wounds sustained when an Israeli police tow truck ran him over two weeks ago

Hathalin was receiving treatment for serious wounds he sustained to the head, chest, abdomen and pelvis at al-Mizan hospital in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, where he was pronounced dead this morning.

The 75-year-old activist and community leader from Masafer Yatta, a collection of Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills, was run over by an Israeli tow truck on 5 January. 

Police arrived in Umm al-Khair village in Masafer Yatta to seize unregistered and allegedly stolen vehicles. 

After locals tried to stop the tow trucks, Israeli police fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the crowds. 

Fouad al-Hmour, an activist with the popular resistance committee in Masafer Yatta, told Middle East Eye at the time that Suleiman was “standing on the side of the road when the tow truck suddenly veered off the road and drove straight into him”.

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“We don’t have another place to go”

Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer Yatta

Occupied Thoughts, Foundation for Middle East Peace, 1/12/2022

"We don't have another place to go:" Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer YattaIn this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP's Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with activist and author Ali Awad about the threats of dispossession and state-backed settler violence facing Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills.

Ali's most recent article, co-authored with Awdah Hathaleen, describes extreme violence against a village elder in a non-violent protest in Masafer Yatta: "Israeli police shattered this Palestinian elder’s bones — and drove away."

Bios

  • Ali Awad is an activist from the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills.
  • Sarah Anne Minkin, PhD, is FMEP’s Director of Programs & Partnerships.
  • Original music by Jalal Yaquoub

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Our Tax Dollars at Work: Destroying a Palestinian Family’s Home and Livelihood

Al Fakheit is one of 12 villages located in the Masafer Yatta area that Israel claims as Firing Zone 918. The Palestinians living in these villages have fought a long legal battle to remain in their homes. On January 3 the Abu Sabha family lost their last legal appeal in an Israeli court.


The Abu Sabha family’s home and barn

Mohammed, the father of the family, was born in the village, in a cave home that is over a century old. In the 1990s Mohammed built tents for his family near the home, and in 2016 he built two homes, all on his privately owned land. Eighteen people lived in these homes. On January 3 the Israeli army issued demolition orders for these homes.


The Abu Sabha family’s animal barns


Members of the Abu Sabha family outside their home learn on January 3 that their legal appeals are exhausted.

On the morning of January 12 the Israeli Civil Administration arrived in the village with border police and bulldozers, and demolished 8 Palestinians structures including homes, two sheep barns, and a water well, leaving several families homeless and without shelter from the weather.


Israeli border police force families back from their homes on January 12.


Israeli forces confront a woman whose home is being demolished.

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Why US lawmakers should witness the Israeli occupation firsthand

A visit by Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Mark Pocan to my Palestinian village affirmed the value of politicians learning about Israel’s policies on the ground.


Palestinians protest the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin to the heritage site of ancient Susya, in Yatta, near the West Bank city of Hebron, March 14, 2021. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Nasser Nawajah, +972 Magazine, December 8, 2021

When U.S. Congressman Andy Levin visited my village of Susiya in 2019, he witnessed a live illustration of the unjust reality that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank experience daily.

As we stood at the entrance of the village, looking toward the illegal Israeli settlement of the same name that has turned Susiya’s ancient ruins into an archeological park, Mekorot, Israel’s water utility company, was busy laying down pipes. The water, of course, would not be accessible to us or the other Palestinian communities in the area; it is meant to serve the outposts and settlements on the hilltops that surround us.

The congressman saw firsthand how water, a basic service which should be guaranteed as a human right, is in fact a precious commodity here in the South Hebron Hills. Do you know how much a cubic meter of water costs in your neighborhood? In Susiya, it costs NIS 35, approximately $11. For Israeli Jews — including those who live just hundreds of meters from us in the Israeli Susiya — the average price is just NIS 7, about $2.

Currently, most of our water cisterns are located in a “security buffer zone” that we cannot access. We are thus forced to buy water at five times the price, while Israelis living in settlements enjoy the same privileges as if they were living in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Last month, U.S. Congressmen Jamaal Bowman and Mark Pocan, together with their colleagues, visited Susiya and witnessed these injustices, too. I stood with them in our playground, which on the previous Shabbat had been invaded by settlers who were escorted and protected by the Israeli army.

New Film on Hebron at the New York Times

Mission: Hebron by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal was published recently in the opinion section of the New York Times website, and can be watched there (with a subscription) or on YouTube.

Mission: Hebron is a short documentary based on interviews conducted by the director with Breaking the Silence testifiers about their service in Hebron. Describing a horrifying yet mundane routine of manning checkpoints, invading homes, nighttime arrests, and violently dispersing protests, they paint a picture of what serving in the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied territories requires, the atmosphere in the city, their interaction with the local population, both Palestinians and settlers, and how they felt about it all.

Screened around the world at international film festivals, the film won the Shagrir Prize at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival and is now long-listed for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

The Residents of Firing Zone 918


This morning, residents of Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv awoke to find posters depicting the faces of Palestinians from Massafer Yatta splashed across their cities.

Since the late 1990s, the Israeli army has been trying to operate a military training zone (Firing Zone 918) in Massafer Yatta. After a twenty-year legal battle to remain on their land, a final decision could be taken by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2022. If the court rules against the residents, it would be one of the largest displacements of Palestinian communities in decades – with over 1300 people being forcibly transferred from their land.

The inhumanity of occupation is often justified under the guise of Israel’s ‘security needs’ but we must see through this. There is no justification for ethnic cleansing or stealing Palestinian land. Forcible transfer is a war crime. Solidarity with the residents of Massafer Yatta #savemassaferyatta

Learn more and get involved at SaveMasaferYatta.com

Photo credits: Activestills

Amnesty Condemns Settler Attack on Palestinian Playground


Jewish settlers try to destroy a Palestinian playground near Hebron. (Photo: via Social Media)

The Palestine Chronicle, November 8, 2021

Amnesty International has condemned an attack by Israeli settlers and soldiers against Palestinian children in a playground in the occupied West Bank village of Susya, near Hebron (Al-Khalil), according to the Middle East Monitor.

The incident took place on Saturday when Israeli soldiers prevented the children and their mothers from having access to the playground in their village.

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