The Greenhouse Project
Like other Palestinian communities, home demolitions and land confiscation cause almost insurmountable monetary damages. As the devaluation of their land and livestock continue to impact the community’s livelihood, finding tangible ways to mitigate impact Israel’s colonial project in the South Hebron Hills is crucial. Per the request of the village elders in Um al-Khair, the Good Shepherd Collective in coordination with the local community and international volunteers installed a greenhouse in the southern section of Um al-Khair. The installation of the greenhouse continues to provide a space for the villagers to grow their own food, sell the produce in the market, and creates a space for internationals to volunteer. The greenhouse acts as a social justice indemnity from the decades-long suffering this refugee community has faced.
A community of refugees, the village of Um al-Khair was established after the Hathaleen tribe was driven off of their lands in al-Arad during the 1948 war. Eid Yamen Hathaleen purchased the lands of Um al-Khair from the Palestinian villagers of Yatta in 1960s. While the family has the deed to the property, they are not allowed to develop their lands because of the multiple legal obstacles facing Palestinians residing in Area C. Since the establishment of the Israeli settlement of Carmel next to Um al-Khair in 1980, the people of Um al-Khair have experienced destructions on different parts of their village 20 times according to OCHA data. To this day, all but one structure has a demolition order pending in the Western portion of Um al-Khair. If executed, it will displace some 80 Palestinians, the vast majority of which are children. Across all of Um al-Khair, there are 63 pending demolition orders, putting at risk hundreds of Palestinians.
On September 11, 2017, the Israeli military arrived at the community of Um al-Khair and installed several hundred yards of razor-wire fencing through their lands that effectively cut off the historical grazing paths for their herds. Additionally, maps retrieved from Bimkom, a Jerusalem based on NGO that works on zoning and planning rights, reveals the settlement of Carmel’s expansion plans are set to surround the village of Um al-Khair. As a Bedouin community, their flocks are the central income for the community. The additional restrictions on their movement pose added economic hardships that will have an immediate and permanent impact on the community’s livelihood. The greenhouse project allows the community to diversify their revenue streams, helping to alleviate a small part of the economic damages.
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