Resisting occupation by a party of volunteers

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions hosts an annual camp for visitors to learn about the occupation and assist the building of a home for a Palestinian family.

Here’s a report by a volunteer on the first day:

I am here as part of a 60-member delegation to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions seventh annual summer camp. We will rebuild two houses here in Anata, a village of 30,000 on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, and construct 11 public toilets in the south of Hebron. If there is time remaining, we will work on a project in the Jordan Valley.

We are staying at Arabeia House, which has been demolished and reconstructed four times. It features a spacious downstairs room where the women sleep on mattresses lined up on the floor. The men sleep in two covered areas on the large terrace cut into the hillside. The house has been under a demolition order since June.

On the hill across the way, on the other side of the infamous “Separation Barrier,” as Israeli officials call it (it is known to the rest of the world as the Apartheid Wall), is a military base and prison. Looking east, you can see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan.

On our first full day here, we were taken on a tour of Anata. It was a striking contrast with the well-kept Jewish neighborhood in the south of Jerusalem where we met for our orientation. The first stop is the top of the hill, where a Bedouin encampment is also under a demolition order. The soldiers across the way find the corrugated metal buildings unsightly and want to move the Bedouins, who drive their sheep by our compound in the mornings, into the village. “Whoever heard of animals living in the middle of the village?” asks Salim Shawamreh, who lives in Arabeia House with his wife, for whom the center is named.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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