Umm Alkhair is in a big danger.. 

Awdah Hathaleen, HUMANS OF MASAFER YATTA

OCT 1, 2023

On the outskirts of the foothills of Masafer Yatta, south of the city of Hebron, sits Khirbet Umm Al-Khair, where its people cling to the land with a combination of pain and determination.

They endure the challenges of continuous Israeli persecution, including the demolition of homes and agricultural structures, confiscation of water tanks, and constant threats to wipe it the entire village out of existence. There is no reliable access to water, electricity, means of transportation, or access to the communications grid.

With all of their strength, the people of Umm Al-Khair confront the occupying military’s bulldozers, defending their modest tin-roofed homes, which barely protect them and their children from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. They cling to their village despite its transformation into a small “khirbeh” no greater than 400 dunams, half of which the occupation controls, which has severely limited their ability to sustain the livestock upon which their livelihood depends. They are prohibited from building, while the settlers of the “Carmel” settlement, which is located on the lands of Umm Al-Khair, enjoy the necessities of modern life.

It is a competition against time and a struggle for survival. We cling to the land of our fathers and grandfathers. Death will not stop us from defending it. They demolish while we rebuild. They confiscate our lands while we are steadfast. The settlers attack us while we are resilient and cannot respond. We are steadfast and we will remain steadfast, but for how long?

 

The entire village of Umm Al-Khair is suffering from a fierce ongoing attack by the occupation and its settlers. It began when the settlers prevented the shepherds from grazing their sheep or leaving the village, even to tend to the crops they themselves had planted. Eventually, the settlers completely prevented the shepherds from leaving the village, forcing some shepherds to sell their sheep, their only source of income.

One shepherd, who prefers to remain anonymous, said that for decades, herding has been dangerous because of the proximity of the “Carmel” settlement, where the occupation forces or groups of settlers sometimes open fire on them and threaten them if they try to approach their lands or graze sheep on them. That was only the beginning of the occupation’s assault on Umm Al-Khair. Eventually, occupation forces confiscated Palestinian lands on the northern and southern sides of the village, declaring them the lands of the Israeli state and under the rule of the settlers who live in the area.

About 5 days ago, one of the hateful settlers chased the shepherds. One of the shepherds reached the village. Then this settler began shouting at the residents and telling them they must sell their sheep because the land now belongs to him. The people of the village gathered and completely rejected that and did not accept the settler or his words. But he quickly called the Israeli police and the Civil Administration, and when they arrived at the village of Umm Al-Khair, they told the people of Umm Al-Khair that the settler is the new owner of the land and that the residents are not allowed to leave the village at all or to graze their sheep.

They also told us that the settler’s lands now extend up to the entrance to the village. The Civil Administration also told us to remove the village’s only water line, which is used by more than 200 people who live in the village. The reason is that, according to their claim, the water network is located on settler lands. This new confiscation of lands has put the people in a very, very difficult situation, as Umm Al-Khair has now become a prison. You cannot move at all according to their law. We are now completely surrounded by the Israeli settlement: the settlement continues to expand on three sides of our village, and on the fourth side, they have built farms for their poultry on other Palestinian lands that were confiscated.

Umm Al-Khair has been suffering for decades from a lack of water and electricity and the demolition of homes. Our homes have been demolished more than 17 times, and more than 109 homes have been destroyed, leaving behind many people who have become homeless. Now, the situation in the village is very, very dangerous, as more than half of the village’s land has been confiscated and residents cannot use it.

The people of Umm Al-Khair call on international institutions concerned with human rights to provide protection for them and to intervene to stop the repeated settlers’ attacks on them. people of Umm Al-Khair affirm that they will not leave their land, that they will face the challenge of the settlement, and that they are prepared to face the worst

Thank You from Palestine!

Hello friends,

Thank you all so much for helping me to come back to Palestine, and for sponsoring young olive trees to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season.

I attended the September 6 hearing in the legal case  against the Israeli settler who assaulted me in March of this year in the Palestinian village of Tuba, but the judge did not issue a verdict. The court scheduled another hearing for November 2, during which the settler will testify. 

During the September 6 hearing both the prosecution and the lawyer for the settler questioned two of the doctors who cared for me after the assault.   Lawyers for the settler refused to accept written hospital reports and documentation, and insisted on questioning the doctors at length in an attempt to claim that the injury was not serious.  It was not easy for these doctors to travel to the hearing, and I am so grateful to them, both for their wonderful care when I was injured, and again now for their help in insisting on legal consequences for the settler.

The lawyer for the settler also argued that the settler should be released, however as I understand he remains on house arrest in the home of his grandparents.

The US consulate did not attend the hearing, which was held completely in Hebrew, and fairly early in the proceeding the judge forced the human rights lawyer who was accompanying me to leave the room. As a result I know only what the doctors were able to tell me about their  testimony, and what the prosecutor told me during a few minutes of conversation  after the day- long hearing.  I am trying to get a court transcript. 

Meanwhile in the area of Masafer Yatta, where the attack on me occurred last March, Palestinians continue to confront escalating attacks by settles, backed up by Israeli soldiers. In one village that I visited last spring, Widade, the violence from settlers has been so relentless and terrifying in these past months that the family has been forced to flee, leaving their home and barns and the livelihood they built over generations. Their sheep have been sold now and all they know has been lost.  Settlers have already arrived to destroy everything that remained, and there is now no hope of them returning to their land.

The majority of legal complaints made by Palestinians to the Israeli police against settlers are dismissed before they reach the prosecution stage and legal consequences for settlers involved in assaults  on Palestinians are almost unheard of.

At this time, in 2023, Palestinians are facing violent attacks by Israeli settlers at the rate of 2.8 per day in the occupied West Bank. This unrelenting pressure and violence is forcing families to flee, and resulting in the depopulation of villages that will be lost forever.

In addition to attacks on people, settlers continue to burn and slash olive trees, steal sheep and donkeys, vandalize homes, cars and personal belongings and destroy water wells and crops. The Israeli military and police routinely back up the settlers, and refuse to intervene to protect civilians.  US taxpayers send Israel 3.8 million dollars per day in aid, the majority of which is received by the military, so when these attacks occur, we own a piece of the violence. 

I hope that in response you will consider passing on to a friend this chance to sponsor an olive tree, at a cost of $24 per tree, to be planted here in Masafer Yatta in the coming planting season as an act of solidarity with these families who are struggling every day to hold on to their land.

Please visit https://tiny.one/MadisonOliveGrove

Many many thanks,
Cassandra

Click to sponsor an olive tree!


Please consider sponsoring one or more olive trees via the Madison-Masafer Yatta Olive Grove project. Thanks to your generous support, the initial goal of 40 trees has been met, and we are on our way to the next goal of 80 trees donated.

If you prefer to donate by mail, you can send a check payable to MRSCP and marked “Olive Grove” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Upcoming Events: September 13 — 21, 2023

Wednesday, Sept. 13: Storytelling as Resistance
Thursday, Sept. 14: The Legacy of Oslo: Thirty Years Later
Thursday, Sept. 14: Palestine Partners at the Madison Night Market!
Friday, Sept. 15: The Developers: Land/Life Grabbers in Palestine
Sunday, Sept. 17: March for Peace at Willy Street Parade
Sunday, Sept. 17: Virtual Tour of the Gaza Strip with Green Olive Tours
Sunday, Sept. 17: Adam Manasra speaks in Madison
Thursday, Sept. 21: Art Under Occupation
Thursday, Sept. 21: Online Screening and Discussion of Film Boycott

Wednesday, Sept. 13:
12 noon CT online
Storytelling as Resistance: Palestinian Identity and Resilience in Literature for Young People

In this webinar, we will hear from a diverse panel of professionals – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish – who through their teaching and writing about Palestine for young people, convey a challenging subject in engaging and educational ways that overcome the all-too-common erasure of the Palestinian people and their story. 

Topics will include the importance of representation and truth-telling and how children can learn about difficult subjects in age-appropriate ways. Booklists, curriculums, and other resources will be shared that can help us learn how best to convey the Palestinian story to children. Our discussion and resources should provide valuable insights and learning for Palestine-related conversations and communications with adults as well.
 

Registration and full information here.


Thursday, Sept. 14
5 — 9 pm
Palestine Partners at the Madison Night Market on State Street!
400 Block of State Street, in front of Warby-Parker Store

Palestine Partners returns to the Madison Night Market with fabulous crafts from Women in Hebron and a great supply of Palestinian Olive Oil from Playgrounds for Palestine.

Thursday, Sept. 14:
2 pm CT online
The Legacy of Oslo: Thirty Years Later
 
On this 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians throughout historic Palestine and beyond are still denied their fundamental rights guaranteed under international law.  The last 30 years are representative of an Israeli annexation process, as opposed to a peace process. …  This webinar will reflect on these 30 years, and how we move forward toward justice and liberation for the Palestinian people.
 
Online live on Facebook or YouTube. (Full information at either link)
 

Friday, Sept. 15:
5 pm CT via Livestream from Berkeley, CA
“The Developers” and the Land/Life-Grabbers in Palestine: Between Silwan and the Armenian Quarter
Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian’s research focuses on trauma, state crimes and criminology, surveillance, gender violence, law and society. She studies the crime of femicide and other forms of gender based violence, violence against children in conflict ridden areas, crimes of abuse of power in settler colonial contexts, surveillance, securitization and social control.

Sunday, Sept. 17
Lineup at 10:30 am at 926 Williamson Street.
March for Peace in Ukraine & World BEYOND war at Willy Street Parade

Bring the kids! Bring the adults!
Details here


Sunday, Sept. 17:
12 noon CT
Virtual Tour of the Gaza Strip with Green Olive Tours

Gaza is frequently referred to as the largest prison in the world and has been under closure since 2007. Join a virtual tour showcasing the way Israeli policy has created an ongoing humanitarian and political catastrophe. With almost annual military assaults by Israel and a near total ban on international observers, virtual technology will be used to cross the militarized border zone, visit major historical sites, and imagine a future in which freedom of movement will be guaranteed to all residents of the Gaza Strip.
Information and Registration here


Sunday, Sept. 17
4 pm
Faith, Hope and Love: Adam Manasra speaks in Madison
First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison

 
Welcome Adam Manasra to Wisconsin as he provides an on-the-ground update from the village of Wadi Foquin located in the Bethlehem District of the West Bank of Palestine. Adam will share about his experience growing up under Israel military occupation, and about the loss of land and resulting economic suffering due to the policy decisions and actions of the Government of Israel.
 
Free and open to the public; Donations for a new community development project in the village to build a Guest House will be gratefully accepted. This project is a creative use of land as well as an expression of resistance.
 
Hosted by First United Methodist Church and Sponsored by the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church.
More info here


Thursday, Sept. 21:
11 am CT online
Eyewitness Palestine Presents:


 
This second installment of their monthly educational Zoom series will feature Palestinian creatives like Sliman Mansour, Saleh Bakri & more.
 
Register here for Art Under Occupation
 
(Note: There is a donation requested, but if you can’t afford it there’s an option at the link.)


Thursday, Sept. 21
5:30 – 7:30 pm online
Screening and Panel Discussion of the film Boycott

 

 

Boycott Screening

Join Churches for Middle East Peace and Just Vision on September 21 for a virtual screening of the film Boycott, with a discussion to follow. Boycott traces the impact of state legislation designed to penalize individuals and companies that choose to boycott Israel due to its human rights record.
 
Registration and full information here