Umm Al Khair

Umm al-Khair is a Bedouin Palestinian village on the eastern slopes of South Mount Hebron, 20km south of Hebron. A census held by the Palestinian Authority in 2007 showed that the village had 516 residents. Two thirds of the village residents are refugees, descendants of Bedouin families that were expelled by Israel after the 1948-1949 war from the area of Tel Arad to the West Bank, which was under Jordanian rule at the time. The two largest hamulas (extended family groups/clans) of these compose the population of the village Umm al-Khair: al-Hadhaleen and al-Faqir.

In 1981, the Jewish settlement Carmel was established to the west of Umm al-Khair. The establishment of the settlement caused great harm to two of the families living in Umm al-Khair. These are two extended families who live a few meters from the Jewish settlement: refugee families that are part of the the Hadhaleen hamula. They were deported, with others, from Tel Arad and arrived in Umm al-Khair in the early 1950s. They settled on a piece of land that they bought from residents of Yatta. One family is concentrated in the area right beside where the northern neighborhood of Carmel settlement was built. The second family lives in the area where the southern neighborhoods of the settlement were built. In the second generation of these two groups there are five households – two in the northern part and three in the southern part. As of 2016, there are 20 households in the third generation of these families – eight living in the northern part and twelve in the southern part, and these make up more than 100 people.

As a result of their proximity to the Jewish settlement Carmel, the Civil Administration of the Israeli occupation army prevents these families from building homes. In addition, it systematically works on destroying all the residential buildings that were constructed after the establishment of the nearby Jewish settlement. In the past decade, these populations have witnessed house demolitions on a large scale in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016.

umm al khair demoliton
House demolition in Umm al-Khair, 2016. Photo: Martin Barzilai