It’s winter in the West Bank now. Here in the South Hebron Hills, hard earth is softening as the daily rains loosen the hardpack into mud. The barren earth is awakening; green grass is beginning to spring up.
It’s cold. Fifty degrees doesn’t seem bad until you realize it’s the temperature inside the house. But what if you had no house?
Here are the grim realities for the families living in the village of Dkaika. Please write your elected representatives and state departments if you can, and thanks for your time.
Dkaika Under Massive Impending Demolition Order
Where: Bedouin village near the Green Line in southeast part of West Bank. In Area C between two military zones.
Who is affected?: 220 residents, 700 goats and sheep making up the livelihood of the inhabitants. A primary school of 60 children.
History: The people were here during the Ottoman period. They have been threatened by demolitions and displacement by Israeli army since 1980s. A legal battle has been ongoing since 2005. In December 2010, a portion of the school was demolished by the army. Recently, in January of 2011, 13 buildings were demolished. In June, the army destroyed some tents, four rooms and two toilets originally constructed by Oxfam. Through funding provided by UNICEF and labour provided by Islamic Relief, a new school consisting of 5 classrooms, an office and a small kitchen has been built. Students moved into the new facility last month.
Current Status: On November 1, the Civil Administration (a branch of the Israeli Defense Force) arrived in the village with 36 demolition orders applying to 46 structures. According to the office of Dov Hanin, a member of the Israeli Knesset, these orders directly affect a population of 220 people, 700 sheep and goats, 20 camels, 55 poultry and 3 donkeys. The demolition orders are on a variety of structures, including 5 communal toilets, a cistern and a quarrying preparation for a cistern, a number of animal structures and a number of residential tents. Villagers were told on a previous Civil Administration visit that they have no right to have the school and it must be removed or else the army will demolish it. These orders comprise almost all the structures in the village.
Humanitarian issues: water, fodder, electricity, sanitation, education, health care, mental health, nutrition…in other words, everything.
Actions we are taking: Advocacy to increase public awareness and public pressure to protect the community; networking with Rabbis for Human Rights, Unicef, UNOCHA, UNRWA, MSF.
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The events I observed while serving in the South Hebron Hills include demolitions and demolition orders against cisterns, electric grids, schools, toilets, homes, animal shelters and mosques. Currently two Bedouin villages, Dkaika and Um al Kher in Area C of the South Hebron Hills, have impending demolition orders against nearly all the structures in the village. Every demolition order translates into stress, anxiety, and human suffering. This situation does not create a climate for peaceful negotiation, and in fact underscores the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a conflict between equals.