As documented in the Villages Group blog, at the end of October 2008, there were home demolitions carried out in Umm-Al-Kheir the home of some Bedouin families that live incredibly close to the settlement of Karmel. I have been there myself, and have taken some pictures.
This is a view of the Karmel settlement from the edge of Umm-Al-Kheir.
I remember one of the first times I was there, I met an elder of the village. He was upset because of the difficult economic situation there. Apparently, the settlers used to hire them for work, but now they only bring in foreign workers, and don’t employ the Palestinians at all.
I think the ultimate reason the settlers do this is to drive the Palestinians away. The Palestinians become isolated, and the settlers act as if the Palestinians do not exist, and have no normal interaction with them, such as in the context of work. In such a situation, eventually the Palestinians will be driven to move to an area where they can get work, and are not living next to hostile neighbors.
Here is a picture of some housing units the settlers built close to Umm-Al-Kheir.
You may notice that on the left side of all of these houses, there are no windows. There are no windows towards the Palestinians, only windows facing each other. It gave me a strange feeling looking at these houses. The view that they do not see is a beautiful one of desert and hills.
A final point I want to mention refers back to the home demolitions. These photos are from before the demolitions took place. I did not include some pictures because the buildings in them may no longer be standing.
There is a Palestinian named Eid who is from this village. I have talked to him on a few occasions, and he had always impressed me with his atittude. He said repeatedly that he wants peace, and that this desire for peace has been instilled in him from his family. He has always been optimistic about the future, at the same time acknowledging that there are Israelis and Palestinians who don’t want peace.
Well, the last time I saw him was in November, and this was about a week after his family’s home was demolished. I had heard what happened before I saw him, and was unsure in what state he would be. When he came over to me to say hello, his demeanor and attitude were completely unchanged. He talked the same way as he had every other time I saw him. It was one of the most amazing demonstrations of a commitment to values.
For days after, I was impressed with his mental strength, and it encouraged me to not lose hope, because here was a man who actually faced real personal hardship, and his outlook was unchanged.