Introduction

Jinba as Magic

My name is A.O, I was born in a cave in Bir il-Ed in 1988. After that the Israeli soldiers expelled us from Bir il-Ed and we came to live here in Jinba. Now I live in Jinba. I got married eight years ago and I have one daughter in the 2nd grade and two sons.

I want to tell you about life here in Jinba. People here live a very simple life, they are shepherds and they care about their sheep, they take their sheep to graze in their land. That’s the men’s lives.

As for the women, as you see, we work to clean under the sheep, to clean our homes, to take care of our children and raise them. When I finish my work, especially in spring, I like to look at the mountains and the sun. In Spring the weather here is very nice and I enjoy watching the green land and looking at the birds, it’s very nice. In a place like this, there aren’t many people and there are hardly any cars, so it’s a very special place to live and relax in, you can live however you want.

jinba-1-8

I want to tell you about a very nice picture that I have in my mind. When I was very young and still living in Bir il-Ed, I used to look at Jinba from Bir il-Ed and I would only see green all around me. It’s a very nice picture and it’s still living in my head.

I also like the Summer, because everything is yellow, yellow, yellow –  everything is golden.

We live in plastic tents because the Israelis do not allow us to build normal houses, so in winter you hear the voice of rain and I’ve enjoyed that sound ever since I lived in a tent. In spring I enjoy the green land and in the summer I enjoy the golden land. It’s like magic. Jinba is magical. All the lands of Palestine are magical.

Both of my grandfathers were born here and so were their fathers and grandfathers. They all were born here and they died here. My grandfather’s father’s name was Hussein Mahmoud Jibreem, Abu Khaled, he passed away when he was 90. My grandfather is Abu Ali and a lot of people from Europe and the USA came here only to see him because if you wanted to know anything about Jinba or Mirkez and other vllages here, you could just ask him. After he passed away, a lot of people were sad because it was such a great loss.

One day a Bedouin man came to see Abu Ali, thinking he was still alive and didn’t know he was dead. He asked about him and he was told that he passed away and he cried. You can ask a lot of people about my grandfather, everyone was sad when he died, he was a very special man, a very kind man. He did not care about the occupation, he said he wants to live and die here, and so he did. He loved his sheep, and he loved caves. If you want to know about Abu Ali, go the caves, go to the mountains, look at the sheep, look at the houses and tents, ask the rocks about Abu Ali and they will tell you about him.

The most important person in my life is my mother. I love her so much and she means so much to me because she taught me to be patient and strong, she taught me how to live among people because one needs to know people in order to be able to live among them. Many times, when I lose myself I look to my mother.

(This account is based on an interviews with A.O from the village of Jinba, conducted in March 2016. )

background

Jinba

Located in the south-western corner of Masafer Yatta, Jinba was first settled by families from Yatta in the early decades of the 1800s. In time, they secured Ottoman titles to land eventually stretching southward to present day Arad across the Green Line, and eastward to the Dead Sea. As an important trade town, and a stop along travellers’ journeys between East and West, by the 1870s Jinba and several other local communities appeared on maps drawn by the Palestine Exploration Fund; half a century later, Jinba was large enough to warrant a mention on regular British Mandate maps. The community had about 30 to 40 houses (many built out of natural caves), three shops, a mosque, a pottery factory and fruit groves; Aerial photography from 1945 shows extensive orchards surrounding the community.

Since 1948 much of the village has been destroyed, first in the 1948-49 war which saw many Palestinian villages demolished and their residents evicted in what is now on the Israeli side of the Green Line, later in 1967, and periodically since that time even as villagers continued to rebuild or repurpose rubble for different structures. Since the 1980s the Israeli authorities have demolished over 30 caves and 11 houses, as well as the mosque, which had been destroyed once before, and many of the village’s trees. By the mid 1980s, the area had been designated a military firing zone. Live-fire exercises still take place in the area. The people of Jinba have continued to live in the area despite an Israeli prohibition against rebuilding structures or improving infrastructure, modern facilities and amenities. The community lacks basic infrastructure for piped water and electricity.

(Based on: ‘A Community On the Brink – A Study of the Palestinian Cave-Dwellers in South Hebron’, published by the World Bank and OCHA)

 

photo gallery
 
movies
 
Army expulsions in Jinba

June 28th, 2014. In the South Hebron Hills, an area declared by the Israeli army as “Firing Zone 918” is the home of 15 Palestinian villages, 8 of which are currently under threat of expulsion. Jinba is among them. Here its residents tell the story of the many attempts to expel them and their current mediation with the army.

Audios
 
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Cave Dwellers in the 918 Firing Zone

The village of Jinba is home to a group of Palestinian farmers. It’s also part of the Israeli military’s “918 Firing Zone,” where the army carries out military training in the Occupied West Bank. Residents were already forced to leave their homes once, but returned on a reprieve. Now their village is again threatened with demolition.

Date: 13.07.2013
Report: Marijke Peters, Deutsche Welle

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Jinba the Magical - Interview with A.O

A.O, a young mother of three from the village of Jinba in the 918 Firing Zone, describes life in the South Hebron Hills. A.O speaks of her personal relationships in Jinba and invites the listener to her world of vivid colors and sounds, a world where the rocks may tell you a story about a man called Abu Ali, and where wisdom passes from mother to daughter (2016).

Transcript

My name is A.O. I was born in a cave in Bir il-Ed in 1988. After that the Israeli soldiers expelled us from Bir il-Ed and we came to live here in Jinba. Now I live in Jinba. I got married eight years ago and I have one daughter in the 2nd grade and two sons.

I want to tell you about life here in Jinba. People here live a very simple life, they are shepherds and they care about their sheep, they take their sheep to graze in their land. That’s the men’s lives.

As for the women, as you see, we work to clean under the sheep, to clean our homes, to take care of our children and raise them. When I finish my work, especially in spring, I like to look at the mountains and the sun. In Spring the weather here is very nice and I enjoy watching the green land and looking at the birds, it’s very nice. In a place like this, there aren’t many people and there are hardly any cars, so it’s a very special place to live and relax in, you can live however you want.

I want to tell you about a very nice picture that I have in my mind. When I was very young and still living in Bir il-Ed, I used to look at Jinba from Bir il-Ed and I would only see green all around me. It’s a very nice picture and it’s still living in my head.

I also like the Summer, because everything is yellow, yellow, yellow –  everything is golden.

We live in plastic tents because the Israelis do not allow us to build normal houses, so in winter you hear the voice of rain and I’ve enjoyed that sound ever since I lived in a tent. In spring I enjoy the green land and in the summer I enjoy the golden land. It’s like magic. Jinba is magical. All the lands of Palestine are magical.

Both of my grandfathers were born here and so were their fathers and grandfathers. They all were born here and they died here. My grandfather’s father’s name was Hussein Mahmoud Jibreem, Abu Khaled, he passed away when he was 90. My grandfather is Abu Ali and a lot of people from Europe and the USA came here only to see him because if you wanted to know anything about Jinba or Mirkez and other vllages here, you could just ask him. After he passed away, a lot of people were sad because it was such a great loss.

One day a Bedouin man came to see Abu Ali, thinking he was still alive and didn’t know he was dead. He asked about him and he was told that he passed away and he cried. You can ask a lot of people about my grandfather, everyone was sad when he died, he was a very special man, a very kind man. He did not care about the occupation, he said he wants to live and die here, and so he did. He loved his sheep, and he loved caves. If you want to know about Abu Ali, go the caves, go to the mountains, look at the sheep, look at the houses and tents, ask the rocks about Abu Ali and they will tell you about him.

The most important person in my life is my mother. I love her so much and she means so much to me because she taught me to be patient and strong, she taught me how to live among people because one needs to know people in order to be able to live among them. Many times, when I lose myself I look to my mother.

(This account is based on an interviews with A.O from the village of Jinba, conducted in March 2016. )

isea

Eisa Younis from the village of Jinba

A short history of the village of Jinba by Eisa Younis, who lives there. For the original interview in Arabic go here. (March 2016)

Transcript

My name is Eisa Younis  (Eye-sah You – nis) Muhammad. I’m from Khirbet Jinba (Ker-bet Jin-bah). I was born in 1974. Jinba has a long history and there were people living here already during the Roman times thousands of years ago. We have been here since the generation of my great-great-grandparents. Jinba used to be on the path connecting Palestine with Egypt. It has a lot of archeological sites from the Roman period and the Ottoman period. Pilgrims on their way to Saudi Arabia used to come from the north of Palestine and pass by here in the south and they used to take a break here.

In 1948 we had shops here and our sheep were here. When Israel occupied us, they destroyed everything, including houses and archeological sites. Our families fled to Yatta (yah -tah). They came back in 1967, but then the Jews destroyed everything again during the Six Day War. We moved into caves and stayed in them until 1985.

In 1985 the Jews declared this area a closed military zone, they expelled all the people from here and destroyed all the caves.

We left the area for about four years but then we returned against the Jews’ will. They would take our sheep and make us pay heavy fines in order to get them back. In 1999 the situation became better. There were peace activists and people from Taayush who stood with us in solidarity. We appointed a lawyer and the situation improved because people knew better. In the past people didn’t know about lawyers. In 1999 we got an interim court order saying we can stay in the area but cannot build houses. If we built a house from bricks, they would destroy it.

They stopped expelling us. They were not allowed to expel us and at the same time we were not allowed to build houses to live in like the rest of the world. We used to build and they would destroy what we built. These houses don’t cost so much to build, each house is around 5-6 thousand shekels, but when your house is destroyed, it’s as if they destroy part of your life and the emotional price is huge. They came at night and gave us a warning and in the morning they came and destroyed the house. I was having supper at my house knowing that I will not be having my breakfast there anymore.

When they destroyed my house, they destroyed a part of my life. For me, it was more precious than a hotel in Tel Aviv. I knew that the coming days were going to be difficult for us. I wouldn’t mind living in a cave but our children are going to get their education and they will not want the life that I’m living now. This is what frightens me, that they will move to the city, especially since I cannot offer them any work here other than being shepherds.

The difference is that I work here with dignity. I live in dignity with my sheep here, but if I want to work in Israel, then I have to pass through so many checkpoints to arrive to work, to have a soldier sitting behind glass telling me to stand up, lift my arms, lift up your shirt in a very disrespectful way. But here I live in dignity with my sheep.

I feel pain when I remember the people who used to live here and don’t anymore. I wonder where they are and think about how their lives used to be when they were here. If they had stayed, what would they be like? Would they be happy? I feel pain when I think about this.

jinba family

A.B from the village of Jinba

Interview with A.B. from the village of Jinba. For the original interview in Arabic go here (2016)

Transcript

I was born in Jinba (jin-bah), and so were my father, my grandfather and the rest of my family. My father had six children, my grandfather had three children, and I have six children, all of them live here and those who passed away lived here all their lives and died here.

We have lived here for very long time, and we have also suffered here. We’ve had some rough years here because the occupation would not leave us alone. The occupation forces apply a lot of pressure on us in order to expel us from Jinba, but we insist on staying here because our history and our land is here and we will not give it up so easily.

During the Canaan (Cain-nan) period, Jinba was a trade town connecting East and West. Egyptian traders used to pass through here, and it was prosperous. When my grandfather and father were still alive, the village had about 60 houses, like the ones you see here. During the occupation in 1948 most of these houses were bombed and destroyed in order to expel their owners. They also tried to expel people from here in 1954 and killed four camels and four men. The owners stayed in the houses until they tried to expel them again in 1985.

In 1985 the Israeli army came here with bulldozers and flattened everything. In 1999 and 2000 they did it again. Our parents and grandparents used to live in caves that still exist. But the occupation insists that we don’t have the right to live above the ground or under the ground; they just want us out.

A couple of weeks ago [02/02/2016], they destroyed 12 houses where families used to live. Now these families have no home. But thank God, this is our land and we will not leave it and we will stay no matter what they do to us. We will live and we will die here, we grew up on this land and we will die on it.

My grandfather lived for 84 years, he was born in one of the caves here. When he was 18 or 20 years old, during the Ottoman rule, soldiers came to him and asked him to join the army. His camel was with him and he was on his way to feed it in the mountain. He tied his camel by the mountain over there and went with them to the army. He had been in the army for 2-3 days when the Ottoman rule came to an end and he was released. He came back to the mountain and found his camel still in the same place so he took it and went back home with the camel to his mother, his father being already dead.

My father lived all of his 92 years in Jinba. People were happy with their life here, they used to work on the land and make a living from it. This land was occupied in 1948 and until then it belonged to us, to our village. There were three grocery stores in the village, and there were also carts that people used to sell goods. The village set an example to other villages.

I want to tell the free world, the people living in hotels and apartment buildings, that while they are living a normal life, others are still living in caves, and this government and this country does not want us to even live in caves. They are preventing us from making a living. Our houses are no bigger than five meters by five meters and they have a ceiling made of tin. This is where we live and raise our children, and the Israeli army comes chasing us with military equipment and destroys our homes. They make babies homeless. You have no idea what it feels like when your home is demolished.

And the others? They’re building settlements on lands that are not theirs and every day they build something new for themselves, while using excuses to expel us such as “no building permits” or “it’s against the law”. What law? Aren’t their settlements against the law? They’re giving themselves permits according to their laws, they take the land with force, expel its people and build settlements there. How is that legal while this isn’t?

We ask God to make our lives better than they are today, to fix this and give us better lives. Even the small children are fed up. Praise God! What else can I say?

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If the bones are strong enough, the flesh will grow again

An interview with Ali Muhammad Mahmoud Jabareen from the village of Jinba. The original interview can be found in Arabic here (2016).

Transcript

In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful.

My name is Ali Muhammad Mahmoud Jabareen. I’m from Jinba. I was born in 1962, here in Jinba. Back then there was no Israeli occupation. When I first opened my eyes to the world, I was living under Jordanian rule. During the 1950’s Israelis came here and took over large parts of this area and destroyed many village including an important and large village, Ilgariteen, and Bayyud.

Masafer Yatta is a very large area and includes many villages, . All these places are connected to each other and they are all in South East Yatta. It is called “Masafer”. it starts from Ras Bir el-Ed mountain and goes all the way to Tel Arad and Kseifeh and all the way to the Israeli settlement of Arad that was established in the 1960’s. From there it goes all the way to the Dead Sea.

If I had to choose between here and Tel Aviv, I would choose here, even though all of Palestine is beautiful and precious to me. If I am sick and I come here, I immediately feel better. It is very beautiful, especially during Spring.

My father was born here in 1940 and he lived in this land with his sheep until he passed away last year, on December 18th, may he rest in peace. For 75 years he lived here and never left, so did my grandfather before him. We are staying on what is left from our land. My father told us to stay on this land, to live in it the same way he lived here and died here.

He used to tell us to remain steadfast. He has gone through harder times than what we are going through today. His sheep were taken more than five times. The last time it happened was on March 23rd 2003. They confiscated 250 sheep that belonged to my father, they slaughtered them in a slaughterhouse in Israel. Thank God we have sheep again and we are still on our land. My father used to say “If the bones are strong enough, the flesh will grow again”. It might be hard for one or two years, but if you’re patient then things will get better.

Israel offers people money and whatever they want to make them leave, but everyone refuses these offers. It is our land and none of us wants to leave it. In 1967, these villages were bombed and destroyed. The people returned and rebuilt them. They stayed until the 1980s and in the 1980s all the people who lived here were expelled. On February 2nd 2016 there was a demolition, and since then they have demolished more than 22 houses in Jinba and other places.

My father, may he rest in peace, and the generation before him did not have weeds growing in their land. But look at the land today, it is full of weeds because it is not being cultivated properly. In the past, our grandparents used to plant corn for one year, cotton for one year, barley for one year and wheat for one year, and this way they kept their land fertile. Now we plant barley for 15 years, so no matter how much rain there is, the plants are not in a good condition.

The new generation is not good at looking after the land. They want to plow quickly and harvest quickly. They want to do everything in one day and don’t want to make any effort. We work all the time, we work on our land and we work in Israel, we never stop working. Working with metal and building materials makes your hands tired. People like you, people who don’t work with their hands, have white hands. If I don’t work for a month, I’ll have white hands too, but I work with metal and cement and it ruins my hands. It doesn’t matter how many times you wash, you can never totally scrub it off.

We all work hard in this area. Most of the people here work in Israel. They work in construction and many of them are masters at it. They all have the same rough hands as me because they work a lot. My children work with me right now, they help me with the sheep and work the land with me. They don’t work as well as the older people, but they are good, thank God. Sometimes they work in Israel too. There are also people who study, and I hope they finish their studies successfully and I pray to God that the younger generation will study because it’s better than farming.

In the 1980s there was no media nor television. We had radio rarely, but luckily today there is television and internet, there are many helpful things today that didn’t exist in the past. The people who lived before us were better than us and they were more eloquent and told stories better than us. If my father was alive he would tell you many stories that I don’t even know how to tell, and also my grandfather and my uncles. All of the elderly people in this area can tell you great stories.

Thank God for everything.

documents
 
storie Erella Dune - Villages Group_Page_01
Stories from the Villages Group |

Three Short Stories by Erella Dunayevsky from the group the Villages group: Thank-you Jinba, My DearThe Bambi and the GoatThe Sixth Lesson.

World Bank Massafer Yatta_Page_01
A Community on the Brink |

A study of the Palestinian Cave Dwellers in South Hebron conducted by UN-OCHA and the World Bank.

46-Making_the_Humanitarian_1_Page_01
Making the Humanitarian Primitive: Time and Violence on the Eternal Frontier |

An article by Peter Lagerquist exploring the issues of time, culture, representation and memory in the Palestinian communities of South Hebron. Published in Jerusalem Quarterly, 46.