Umm al-Khair and its continuous suffering with the occupation by Awdah
In Khirbet Umm al-Khair, life has become unbearable, and the situation is getting worse day after day, especially the last two years.
At first, the residents of Umm al-Khair village were made refugees by the Nakba. They were displaced from their lands in the Arad region, so they came and bought lands in the south of Hebron and Masafer Yatta. They were silent about it. After that, the occupation began construction of an Israeli settlement next to the village in the 1980s. This settlement caused them many problems, as a large part of their land was confiscated for the benefit of the settlers, and they were prevented from obtaining sufficient amounts of water and electricity. In the 1990s, the settlement built chicken farms in the eastern direction of the village, which is only a few meters away from the entrance to the village. These farms are fully and permanently connected to electricity, and are connected to the electricity from the settlement on the western side. Electricity passes over the village and to the chicken farms, but over the original Palestinian residents, who see electricity passing over them and cannot access it. This is one of the examples of discrimination and racism that Palestinians face in Masafer Yatta and the South Hebron area.
After that, the great suffering and the greatest problem began: the demolition of homes. The first demolition process was in the winter of 2007, when 6 houses were demolished, and more than 28 people became homeless. Since then, the people of Umm al-Khair faced more than 16 demolitions, and more than 108 homes and Al-Ain were also demolished more than once. Um Al-Khair is the closest Palestinian village to any Israeli settlement, and it is the village in which demolitions take place most frequently in southern Hebron. It is worth mentioning that more than 90 percent of the homes and buildings have notices of demolition and removal.
Two years ago, the situation became unbearable and life became very difficult due to the repeated and harmful attacks of the occupation. After the martyrdom of the struggling leader Suleiman al-Hathlin in January 2022, the attacks increased significantly. The people of Umm al-Khair depend largely on livestock as a source of income, as shepherds have been grazing their sheep in the neighboring fields for many years, especially in the spring season, which saves them from paying large sums of money to buy fodder.
But everything changed about two months ago, when a settler was brought in with all of the necessary land and housing for him, and they made him live less than 2 kilometers to the northeast of the village of Umm al-Khair. This settler confiscated all the pastures that people and shepherds had used to graze their sheep for many years, and he prevented them from going to graze anywhere, whether it was near or far from the settlement, he chased them and chased their sheep and expelled them wherever he saw them, so the people had to imprison their sheep in the village and not go out for fear of settler attacks. It took a long time, and the worst thing is that the people communicated with the Israeli police, the Civil Administration, and the army, but they all stood with the settler, saying that these lands are state lands and were given to the settlers, and that's all. Absolutely incorrect.
It is not surprising that the occupation stands with its settlers and supports them taking more lands and the repeated attacks on the Palestinians, especially in Area C. This is a clear and systematic attack on the residents’ only source of livelihood, and people cannot do anything.
If the shepherds do not go to graze their sheep, this will force them to buy fodder, and this is more than most shepherds are able to afford, which will make them sell their sheep, losing their only source of income.
The confiscation of lands, the prevention of water and electricity, the demolition of homes, settler attacks, and the confiscation of properties such as cars, are all examples of how the occupation works to expel residents from their lands. But we are still alive because these lands are Palestinian lands and we have the right to believe and remain on our land