‘appropriation of property…not justified by military necessity, and carried out unlawfully, and wantonly… is a war crime.’ (Article 147, Geneva Convention IV)
We went back to see Fahime, who I wrote about in ‘Who is my neighbour?’ and whose land is being cut in half by the separation wall. The contractors have restarted building the wall and have added a further 100 metres or so to its length. Since we last met, Fahime had been told that she might be able to get a door in the wall and they are waiting to hear. We went out to inspect. Unless a door is put in fairly soon, the wall will have moved beyond her land and on to that belonging to her aunt. She will have lost the opportunity of having a door in the wall that will be in any way convenient for her to reach her fruit and olive trees.
She was enraged by seeing that the contractors had left huge piles of rubble on her side of the wall. It was going to be difficult for her to clear it away. The Israeli state was already stealing her land; this was in effect making a further ten metres unusable on her side of the wall.
The man in the bulldozer went on scooping out the bottom of the trench to make way for additional sections of the wall. Fahime started to complain to him. She was unstoppable. She wanted him to tidy up after himself. The security guards arrived to protect the man driving the bulldozer. They were from a security firm rather than soldiers. One was big and burly with an assault rifle; the other slighter with a hand gun tucked into a holster at his waist. They complained to our driver for bringing internationals into the area. The first guard came and stood very close immediately in front of Fahime, in what I would have termed her personal space. I moved closer to her. She comes up to my shoulder; he was very much taller than me. She wasn’t a bit afraid of him. She went on telling him off with the air of an outraged mother telling her son to clear up his tip of a room. She wasn’t going to let him off dumping rubble on her side of the wall.
He moved away and so did I. We all withdrew so as not to become part of the action. We watched Fahime from a distance. She sat down on a pile of earth, still complaining. Then slowly the bulldozer moved up the bank and along by her side of the wall, scooping up the rubble and spreading it out evenly. Fahime stood there, supervising. In this tiny detail she got her way.
I am struck once again by the resilience of Palestinian people living in such harsh conditions. Anyone who thinks that because Palestinian women have a traditional role and wear the hijab that they are cowed and submissive should think again.
I work for Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) as an ecumenical accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views contained in this email are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer (QPSW) or the World Council of Churches. If you would like to publish the information contained here (including posting it on a website), or distribute it further, please first contact the QPSW Programme Manager for I-oPt firstname.lastname@example.org for permission. Thank you.