No justice for Rachel Corrie: A solidarity action in Mufaqarah

In the day of Rachel Corrie’s verdict, a solidarity action calling for justice was held in Mufaqarah to protest against the expected judgment on the Ism activist’s death. The demonstration was also organized to oppose the possible evacuation of eight villages in the so proclaimed Firing Zone 918 and the Israeli policy of demolition and eviction in the whole area.

These demolitions are carried out with the same weapon that killed the American activist and continues to destroy the lives of thousands of Palestinians.

The march was organized by the Popular Resistance Committee of South Hebron Hills and supported by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. It was attended by a hundred of people who gathered in Mufaqarah and then marched towards the illegal outpost of Avigayil.

The participants moved forward showing pictures of the young American activist killed on 16th march 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting a house demolition in Gaza.

As the demonstrators get to the area surrounding the outpost singing and chanting slogans, the Idf and the Israeli police tried to prevent them from reaching the colony. Pictures of Rachel Corrie were hanged on all around the area. After some speeches and a short confrontation between an armed settler and some of the activists, the demonstration ended peacefully and the participants went back to the village of Mufaqarah.

At the same time, 150 km far away, the judge ruled that Corrie’s death was an accident which the Idf cannot be considered responsible for. Once again Israeli crimes goes unpunished and justice is denied.

On the same day, early in the morning, the bulldozers went back to work in the South Hebron Hills and demolished several structures -four wells, four houses (two were caves) and six animal shelters- in Khirbet Zanuta and three tents in the village of Susiya, leaving homeless several families.


Fayyad visits the Masafer Yatta under attack

Following Ehud Barak recent announcement on the evacuation of eight villages in the Masafer Yatta, today the Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad visited al Mufaqarah and al Fakhit.

According to the Israeli plan announced on the 23rd of July,eight of the twelve villages of the so proclaimed Firing Zone area 918 -al Majaz, a-Tabban, a-Sfay, al-Fakhit, al-Halaweh, al-Mirkez, Jinba, and al- Kharuba- will be evacuated, while the other four – al-Mufaqarah, at-Tuba, Maghayir al-Abeed and as-Sarura – will be spared. The eviction’s cause is that the land is needed for military training.

In the case the eight hamlets are displaced, around 1500 persons will be left homeless and moved to the close city of Yatta. Also the fate of the four spared hamlets, systematically targeted with demolition orders and exposed to settlers’ attacks, will be already determined, as they will find themselves isolated and cut off from the vital center of Yatta.

According to Barak’s declaration, the villagers will be allowed to access their land for farming on weekends and Jewish holidays, and during two one-month periods each year, when the Israeli army is not training in the area.

During his visit, Fayyad condemned the decision, saying that this measure is aimed at evacuating the Palestinians from their land. “As a matter of principle, this is not Israeli land. If they want to practice military training, they should go elsewhere”.

He also stressed the illegal presence of the surroundings settlements and outposts, which are not targeted with any evacuation orders but, on the contrary, continue to expand and flourish.

The settlements issue, along with the forced eviction of Palestinians from the so called area C, closed nearly all avenues for the advancement of the peace process and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

According to Ocha, the area designated as Firing zone amount to approximately the 18% of the West Bank. 38 Palestinian communities are living in these territories, with a population of 5,000 people, while 10 Jewish settlement outposts are partly or completely located in the same area[1].

While the villagers of Masafer Yatta wait for the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice to decide on their future, the IDF started to terrorize the inhabitants of the area. Yesterday, 70 masked and armed soldiers supported by two helicopters and six jeeps raided the village of Jinba, one of the hamlets under threat of eviction. The Israeli army caused property damages while making extensive searches whose aim was to photograph and map the structures of the village.

They also erected a command center outside the village and they parked several vehicles in the same area.

Tonight in Mufaqarah!


The Popular Resistance Committee of South Hebron Hills organizes an important meeting with representatives from Majaz, Tabban, Sfai, Fakheit, Halaweh, Mirkez, Jinba, and Kharuba which have a total of 1,500 residents in support of their rights to live and to resist after Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition and evacuation of these Palestinian villages.


Three Al Mufaqarah buildings under demolition threat

Bad news are never long in coming. The three stop working orders delivered on the 10th of July and expired the 21st of the same month have been followed by demolition orders that the Dco and the army have given to the community this afternoon. The structures targeted by the orders are the first house built by the community with the help of Israelis and International activists during al Mufaqarah R-exist campaign and now home for a family of eleven persons and two tents. The tents served as meeting place for the community as well as a place to welcome international delegations. These tents also hosted the summer camp which took place in the village from the 1st to the 14th of July with children coming from all the area.

According to the orders, the owners have three day time in order to demolish the structures themselves, otherwise the Israeli authorities will have the right to do it.

The lawyer has immediately received all the documentation needed to appeal the decision.

In spite of all the policies applied by the Israeli authority, which encounter demolitions, enclosures and other abuses and the violence of the settlers, al Mufaqarah people keep on resisting.

Summer Camp 2012!

This year al Mufaqarah hosts the Summer Camp for the children of different villages in the area of South Hebron Hills!

The Camp started the 1st  of July and it will end the 14th , when the communities will celebrate the festival of Nonviolent Resistance, a celebration which pays tribute to the people of the South hebron Hills who chose to act in nonviolent ways against daily human rights violations. Around 130 children from Tuwani, Tuba, Magayr al Abeed and Mufaqarah itself are attending the camp, whose aims are to give the children a chance to play freely and experience different activities as well as to promote peace education within the community, enhance conflict transformation skills and strengthen the commitment and the unity of the villages in the area.

Check out the video of the camp (by Operation Dove):

Three stop working orders delivered to the community of al Mufaqarah

This morning the community of al Mufaqarah received three stop working orders that will expire the 21st  of June, one for a new house where a family of eleven people lives, and two for  tents.

In the last few days the occupying forces focused their attention on the community.

On Friday 8th of June, in the afternoon, the army stopped a tractor carrying the materials needed for the construction of the houses. It  kept monitoring the whole area all the day long. In the evening, the Israeli forces put checkpoints along the way between the villages of  Tuwani and  Karmel  and in the evening they prevented other two tractors to reach al Mufaqarah. The first one was sent back, while the second one, who refused to turn the tractor, was stopped for a long time and risked to be arrested. Only the intervention of a group of  women from the village of Tuwani prevented his arrest and enabled the reopening of the road.

During the night the army kept on patrolling the area.

Yesterday morning, a large flock apparently coming from one of the surrounding settlements was found near Mufaqarah, causing a concentration of patrols nearby the village.

After few hours, as soon as the community installed a tent and some work was started nearby the mosque, still under construction after last November’s demolition, the army, the border police and the Dco returned to Mufaqarah. They created a security cordon to prevent people from getting into the mosque and they identified the leader of the local community.

Around 2 pm all of them left the village, but their intervention blocked the construction of a third house, for which many international and Israeli volunteers had reached the village.

Work never stops in al-Mufaqarah!

On 26th of May around fifty Israeli and international activists gathered in al Mufaqarah to help the Local Community building the second house. They spent the whole day together helping the villagers to prepare the concrete, to carry the bricks and to finalize the first house. They worked side by side with a strong sense of solidarity and their presence was crucial for the community to feel supported in their struggle to resist.

On that very day, the first family moved from a cave to the first house. Fadil Hamandeh, his two wives and their nine children transferred part of their belongings in the new building. All of them will finally have the chance to see the sunlight coming in through their windows.

The army kept on observing the village from the surroundings hills, but did not visit al Mufaqarah.

On Saturday 2d of June, the around forty volunteers who reached the site worked on the completion of the second house, preparing and carrying concrete. The villagers also prepared the soil for the third house that will be built next Saturday.
Once again the army observed the location for few hours, but did not intervene.
The next action will take place on the 9th of June with the construction of the third house.

Al Mufaqarah community needs your support! Check out the Be involved page to know how to participate in next Saturday action and sustain this community’s attempt to resist Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing.

More photos:

Launching Day !

On 19th May Palestinians, Israelis and international activists participated in the launch of the campaign promoted by the community of Al Mufaqarah and supported by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) by building the first of fifteen houses destined to the community.

The campaign aims to stress the permanent character of the community presence in the area and opposes Israeli state policies. Al-Mufaqarah is located in area C and its inhabitants, who live in caves and shanks, cannot build any structure without Israeli authorization. These authorizations are systematically denied and most of the buildings of the village have pending demolition orders, despite the existence of official documents proving the inhabitants property of the land.

Work started the previous Friday afternoon when the local community prepared the ground to start building. Over 80 volunteers came out since Saturday morning to support the community and participating in the work. Working side by side, members from al-Mufaqarah and surroundings communities, Israelis and international activists contributed to build a two room house with a total floor surface of about 35m².

The Israeli army and the DCO (District Coordination Office) visited the village around 1.30 pm asking about the gravel near the mosque and blaming al Mufaqarah inhabitants that building without permission it’s illegal. During the afternoon they monitored the area from the surrounding hills, taking pictures of the new structure.

Once the walls of the house have been completed, all the people gathered near the mosque where a public meeting took place with the speeches of representatives of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee and of the PSCC.

Mahmoud Hamandeh, a member of the Local Community, reported the story of the area since early ’80s, when the first settlements were established: “Since then the occupation became even harsher for us and during the following decades settlers attacks became systematic” told Hamandeh. “In spring 2007 they poisoned a spring, causing the death of many cattle, but when the Israeli authority for the Protection of the Natural Resources that visited the area focused its concern only on wild animals, because Israel knows that flocks are vital for us”.

In 1999 the community were uprooted from the area and transferred north of road 317: “We appealed to the Supreme Court, and after six months we were authorized to come back” said Hamandeh, “but Israeli attempts to remove us never stopped”. Last November, Israeli army demolished the mosque, a structure containing the generator, a cattle shed and Hamandeh’s house: “While my 21 years old daughter Sawsan was collecting our belongings, the soldiers sprayed her eyes with pepper” he told the audience, “then they arrested her and ‘Amal, her 16 years old cousin who just tried to rescue Sawsan after she fainted. For 3 days, we had no news about them. ‘Amal was released after 5 days, Sawsan after 8 days on 5.000 shekels bail”.

This episode has not undermined people’s will to keep living in their land: “Every time they will demolished, we will build –concluded Hamandeh-, but we need your support: come to al Mufaqarah and support us in our attempt to move from the underground to the surface of our land”.

The event ended with a show of Dabka, the traditional Palestinian dance.

Photos :