Life Shaped by Bulldozers
UM AL-KHAIR | 2.14.2007
By Tariq Hathaleen
The violence of Israel’s military occupation has shaped our lives in Um al-Khair. Feb 14, 2007, was yet another day characterized by trauma and the community coming together to put our lives back together.
Our community, our elders, and children were shocked when they saw droves of Israeli military vehicles and two big bulldozers enter our small, impoverished community. At first, the people were unsure of who was going to be the next target, as most of our homes have pending home demolition orders. Others were in denial. Some said they hoped that the military was there to open a patrol road around the village, sparing us the physical destruction of our meager homes. The more sober members of the community speculated that the Israelis will demolish the houses near the fence, which demarcates our community from the illegal Jewish settlement. Many of the mothers in our community prayed that they would pass our homes, have mercy on us and continue on to the settlement to do some work. While those conversations took many forms, the common thread of fear wove them all together. Everything that was said at that moment came out of a space of trauma and fear.
Everyone was wrong and our greatest fears come to reality. The Israeli Civil Administration, in coordination with the Israeli military, demolished eight houses on both sides of Um al-Khair.
Yasser Hathaleen, the father of 20 children, was out on the rolling hillsides of the South Hebron Hills at the time, shepherding his flock on the little land that the Israeli state had not confiscated to turn into settlements. When he came back home, his distress was physical as he realized that everything he had worked for, all of the means he had to take care of children, were demolished under the unrelenting steel blades of the Israeli bulldozers. Out of anger, frustration and fear, he asked questions to which he already had the answers: “What the hell is this?”, “Why did they demolish my house?”, “Have they lost their minds?”, “What I will do with my family now?”
On this day, Yasser was the first to lose his home, and his future. But as it has been for the last 70 years, the Israeli occupation grinds on and his neighbor’s homes were also turned into twisted metal and broken concrete, leaving behind a past that once had a promising future.