(Above: Israeli and Palestinian talking)
The initial reason I decided to write a blog was to recount my experiences in the South Mount Hebron area of the West Bank. Not many people know what is going on there, and I wanted to help disseminate information.
I sometimes go out with members of the Israeli-Palestinian group Taayush, which works for relations and cooperation between Jews and Arabs. The specific activities vary, but involve establishing relationships with Palestinians in the area, and in trying to prevent settler violence.
This Saturday, I went out with the group to the very small Palestinian village of Susya. It used to be larger and in a different location, which settlers now occupy. On Saturday our group (Israelis and Palestinians) went to look at a new outpost being built called Givat Hadegel. This outpost is an extension of the settlement of Susya (not to be confused with the village) and is illegal even under Israeli law.
With us was the Palestinian man who owns the land Givat Hadegel is being built on. He even has the appropriate documentation to prove it, but the army still allows the settlers to build their outpost.
Above is a view of Givat Hadegel. In the background the settlement of Susya is visible on the next hilltop. Not visible in the valley is the illegal outpost of Havat Ya’ir. Effectively Givat Hadegel will serve as another hilltop the settlers control, and they will then be able to take the places in between in order to connect them.
Givat Hadegel is still clearly not a real settlement, but this is how the outposts often start. First they make a sort of hang-out spot
As you can see, there is a cot, a stove-top and such. There were also a couple other places where people could sleep. So the settlers might start hanging out here, and then sleeping here sometimes, and then, suddenly, they put up a real structure, get water and electricity connected, and it becomes an extension of the settlement.
I want to stress again that this land is indisputably owned by a Palestinian. Nevertheless, the IDF and the police are unwilling to remove the settlers or the structures they put up.
Despite the recent violence in Gaza and all the other problems, there are still Jews and Arabs who meet, work together, and desire peace. I want to remind everyone that there are people to talk to on both sides, and there are people struggling to improve the situation, through small acts of peace.