This blog is not about hummus, nor about bread. It is about another kind of bread and butter: being able to live in security. Without that, all of life’s other needs, rights, desires, and joys can never be fully realised.
In the occupied West Bank in Palestine, most people I met live under a shadow of fear and insecurity, unsure what awaits them at the checkpoints they must pass through to get to work, health centres or places of worship, whether their children will come home from school safe and well, or whether their homes will be standing the next day. This last fear is especially true for herder or nomadic communities, such as the Bedouin.
Many Bedouin communities were first displaced from the Negev desert in Israel during the 1948-49 war, and have faced repeated threats of displacement ever since. This is the case of Khan Al Ahmar, a community situated east of Jerusalem that I wrote about on an earlier blog post. The Israeli state has announced it is going to expel the community from their current location within months. More imminently, another Bedouin community of Jabal Al Baba is facing eviction, and a herder community in the South Hebron Hills, known as Susiya, whose members were evicted from their original village in 1986, are threatened with the destruction of one fifth of their property. The cruelty of these threats is even starker considering that they are due to be carried out in the middle of winter. Scores more villages are at risk of what amounts to forcible transfer of their populations, according to the United Nations.
The argument for these destructions and evictions is that the villages or properties are ‘unauthorised’ or do not have permits. This is despite repeated unsuccessful attempts by the community members or leadership to apply for construction permits, or submit village master plans for approval. The truth is that these villages sit on strategic land, near Israeli settlements that Israel wants to protect or expand. It is the steady creep of annexation, which has been increasing in pace and stealth as an ever more indifferent and/or impotent international community stands by. Forcible transfer and the destruction of private property by an occupying power constitute war crimes according to international humanitarian law.
What can be done? Well, something, even if that is to start by shouting into the night sky. You can read more here about Susiya, and join a letter-writing campaign. And if you live in the U.K. you can urge your MP to attend this debate next Wednesday. You can also ask your MP, TD, or MEP what they can do about it. Or you can share this blog post or any of the contained links on Facebook so more people know about it.