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PHOTOS: Life before expulsion in the South Hebron Hills

A woman from the village of Khirbet al Fakheit gazes from her tent. Her village of nine families is one of the eight Palestinian communities slated for demolition in the area of the South Hebron Hills designated by the Israeli military as “Firing Zone 918”. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Monday, the Israeli High Court of Justice heard the case of eight Palestinian villages that the Israeli government plans to displace in favor of a live-fire military training area known as “Firing Zone 918”. Some 1,000 people live in these villages in the South Hebron Hills, which include Jinba, Khirbet al Majaz, Khirbet at Taban, Khirbet a Safai, Khirbet al Fakheit, Khirbet al Halawah, Khirbet al Markez, and Khilet a Dabe’. The families living in these communities have eked out their existence on their barren and rocky hills for generations. For the past 14 years, this has meant living under the threats of eviction orders and home demolitions, while Israeli Jewish settlements in the same area have faced no such orders. These photos show the faces and the lives of those struggling to remain on their land.

Rather than render a final decision in the matter, the court recommended mediation between the residents and the government. In similar negotiations with the villagers a decade ago, the government proposed moving the communities to a smaller area of nearby land. The residents refused to be displaced, and after three years, the mediation ended inconclusively. In spite of these past failures, the residents have accepted the court’s proposal for a new round of mediation, and the government has one month to decide whether or not it will participate as well.

An Israeli military “firing zone” warning sign near the village of Jinba. (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)


Students play football outside of their school in the village of Khirbet al Fakheit. The school faces a demolition order, and teachers who come from nearby Yatta have been harassed by the Israeli military and told they are prohibited from driving their cars in the area. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Agricultural work in the village of Jinba. (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)


An Israeli military humvee patrols the South Hebron Hills near the village of Khirbet at Tabban. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


The Abu Sab’aa family of Khirbet al Fakheit sits in their tent. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Shepherds lead their flocks near the West Bank village of Jinba. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)


A teacher leads a class at the school in the village of Khirbet al Fakheit. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Ibrahim Youssef Abu Arham in his traditional home in the West Bank village of Jinba. The Abu Arham family has lived in Jinba for generations.


Women lead their flocks among water tanks and various structures in the village of Khallet Athaba’. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


Women sit in their tent home in Khirbet at Tabban, a village of 11 families. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)


A child from the village of Khirbet at Tabban climbs the steps outside of his tent home. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Read more:
Israel’s High Court sends South Hebron Hills evictions to mediation

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    1. Danny

      In Israel expulsion is a compounded sin, repeating itself again and again in a seemingly endless loop of state-sanctioned dispossession and theft. Because, after all, what’s the point of moving these people from point A to point B if you’re not willing to, later on, move them to point C, D, E, …

      By my estimate, Israel owes the indigenous peoples of Palestine untold amounts in compensation and punitive damages that have been compounding for many decades now. When the time comes for Israel to compensate these people, many Israelis will be shocked by the amount.

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