Saturday, October 31, 2020

“Creating unliveable conditions:” Israeli forces destroy Abu a-Nawar classrooms, again

By Martin Leeper - February 13, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Bedouin] [demolition] [Area C]

Standing amid rubble of what was Abu a-Nawar’s 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, the disparities between the 650 person Bedouin village and the 21st century Israeli settlement, Ma’ale Adumim are undeniable.

The village behind is an assorted collection of wood-framed shelters on concrete slabs, covered with a patchwork of cloth, metal and plastic. There are small pens to keep in the goats, and a crisscrossing web of wires bringing electricity, 'illegally’, from the nearest town a kilometer away. A knobby dirt road is the only way in or out.
Ma’ale Adumim creeps over the edge of the butte and down into the ravine directly adjacent to Abu a-Nawar. The multi-story homes loom over the village, neatly spaced floodlights midway down the side of the gulch, satellite dishes, paved roads in what is clearly a tight suburban development. A security tower, is perched, overlooking everything.
In fact, from the rubble, there are three visible security towers. One to the north, Ma’ale Adumim, one to the immediate south, and one to the east, all on the edges of the low foothills leading into the valley below.
Abu Emad (in Keffiyeh) and friend walk back to the demolished classrooms from the spot where Israeli soldiers cut the electric cable for the school.
At 5:00 a.m. on the 4th of February, under the cover of darkness, Israeli soldiers and demolition equipment rumbled into Abu a-Nawar. The soldiers circled the classroom school house as the machine operator ripped the walls down and upended the concrete foundation. By 6:15 a.m. the job was done, the soldiers were gone, and all that was left was a heap of wreckage. This is the third time in two years the classrooms have been demolished in Abu a-Nawar.
A building for 1st and 2nd graders remains, but Israel has told Abu a-Nawar two classes are all they need and all they are allowed.
Abu Emad is a middle aged man who has lived in Abu a-Nawar his entire life. “[They] want them to go to another school three kilometers away, but it is too far, they can only go by foot,” Emad told Palestine Monitor. Therefore, the 27 students and three teachers, “have class outside now, everyday, from 8:00 to 1:00.”
Abu a-Nawar is in an extremely precarious position. The village lies just east of Jerusalem, in a region of the West Bank governed entirely by Israel known as Area C. On top of that, it also sits in the path of Israel’s E1 plan - a plan to build a continuous settlement from Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim.
Amit Gilutz is a spokesperson for B’Tselem, a Jerusalem based organization dedicated to documenting Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. The E1 area and plan is “very strategic for Israel,” he told the Palestine Monitor, it’s a continuation of “the process of fragmentation of the West Bank that has been ongoing since 1967.”
In order to justify the demolition of buildings or confiscation of development materials, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA), the military branch in charge of civil matters in Area C, cites illegal construction. However, Gilutz said “it creates a false impression that there exists a legal procedure by which Palestinians can apply for and obtain a construction permit. The process exists but after spending a lot of money for the application, and time and effort, the chances of them actually getting a permit is negligible.”
Master plans are required for community development but are also rarely approved. “Here and there,” Gilutz said, “in the south Hebron hills for example but the bottom line is to control as much land and resources as possible with as few Palestinians on them, as possible.”
The ICA “refuses to approve these master plans and when you don’t have a master plan approved, any construction you do is illegal. So if you lay down pipes leading water from your spring to your field or your community and [Israel] can come and destroy your pipe or confiscate it.”
In the foreground is a portion of Abu a-Nawar, behind is a portion the encroaching settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. “They [the Bedouin’s] don’t want city life, it’s not natural.” - Abu Ghaliya
Without master plans, communities are refused access to local water systems or power grids. “Even though all the [Israeli] settlements around them… are connected to the water system generously, and the power grid just like anyone else living in the 21st century,” Gilutz said.
In Abu a-Nawar, individual families connect light bulbs in their homes to the homes of their relatives in the neighboring Palestinian villages, al-Jahalin or Jabal al-Baba.
Abu a-Nawar was settled by refugees coming north from the now Israeli territories of Arad and Be’er Sheva, back in 1951. The Bedouins came with their families and animals and settled on this hilltop because they had a lot of goats and sheep Emad explained, and from “here to the dead sea, it is a good place to grow animals.”
Today, however, Abu a-Nawar and the land needed to raise these animals is the way of Israel’s plan. If Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem were to form a continuous settlement in the “E1 area which is in the area of the West Bank that is the narrowest, [it will] in a very substantial way, disconnect the northern and southern parts of the West Bank,” Gilutz said.
“The West Bank has been severely fragmented by Israel’s take over of Palestinian land, and using all kinds of different mechanisms and settlements enterprise suffocate east Jerusalem and further entrench it’s disconnect from the west bank” - Amit Gilutz
For the Palestinian communities in area C Gilutz said, “Israel is creating unliveable conditions and applying all kinds of violence… in order to maintain this coercive life environment [demolition being merely one form of this violence].” The goal, he laments, is for life to made so difficult for these communities they “choose to leave and move into one of the enclaves the Palestinian population is being concentrated.”
Israel has not managed to force the residents of Abu a-Nawar to leave, but according to Abu Ghaliya, another villager and friend of Emad, Israel has chosen the right methods, “Bedouin life, what does it mean? [It means] tent, animals and a big area. If you lose one of them, they can not live.”
For Gilutz, the E1 project is Israel's way of transferring land and livelihood from the original inhabitants into the hands of a new demographic. "Palestinians are being driven off of their land, of their water resources, of their shepherding and grain lands and these are generously transferred to the hands of Israeli settlers,” Gilutz explained.
Undeterred, however, Emad said, “we want to build now.” To rebuild the classrooms, he thinks, would take 10 months.

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