In Wake of Fourth Demolition, Tana Villagers Vow to Rebuild

10.02.11 – 21:51

Nablus – PNN – On Wednesday, Israeli army bulldozers demolished all but the mosque in the tiny village of Tana, east of Nablus, because it did not have the required permits. On Thursday afternoon, the villagers began to rebuild. This is their fourth time.

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A villager from Tana carries away part of his demolished home (PNN Images).

Thirty-five buildings in all were destroyed, most of them makeshift houses constructed of metal siding, pipes, and blue tarp. Now most of the roughly 200 villagers made homeless by the demolitions must move to nearby caves as winter winds and rain buffet this mountainous region of the West Bank. Livestock sheds were destroyed, so five thousand sheep are shivering.

Nobody, however, is leaving Tana.

“This is my life,” said one man, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals. “I was born here and I have my children here. I won’t leave.”

Many residents even laugh at the idea, saying if they wanted to leave they would have gone when the village was first demolished in 2005. Since then Israeli bulldozers have come back three times, most recently in December, when they destroyed the Tana schoolhouse, forcing villagers’ children to make the seven kilometer walk to the village of Beit Furik. Each time the reason is the same: the structures in Tana, which falls in the West Bank’s Israeli-controlled Area C, are unlicensed.

“Of course my house doesn’t have a permit,” said Radi Mahmoud Hamali, 64, the remains of whose house lie close to the small stone mosque, the only structure left untouched. “I cannot get a permit. It’s impossible. They just [demolished Tana] to take the land for the settlers.”

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Radi Hamali prepares tea in a cave near his demolished home (PNN Images).

Two illegal Jewish settlements, Yitzhar and Makhoura, stand atop nearby hills. Both have been named as the sources of violent attacks on local Palestinian shepherds in the past. On January 27, Yitzhar settlers were suspected, but not arrested, in the shooting death of 18-year-old Adi Qaddous from the village of Iraq Burin. Residents in Tana suspect that the Israeli army—commonly seen as a powerful enabler—demolished the village to clear the land for further settlement.

At least on Thursday, however, Tana was not without friends. An Italian NGO has pledged to pay for and build a new schoolhouse. In the afternoon a convoy of UN and Fatah party vehicles stopped on the dirt road that runs through the village. Ghassan Douglass, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of filing settler attacks in the West Bank, spoke at the mosque and promised that both Fatah and the PA would help rebuild the village.

“We in the Fatah movement are all standing in support of these citizens,” said Douglass. He pointed to the caves in which the Tana villagers will have to live for the time being. “There are no hotels here, unfortunately.” The convoy moved on after about twenty minutes.

Down the hillside, Radi Hamali’s son and neighbor helped clear away the wreckage of pipes, twisted metal, and chicken wire that was his home. Hamali reckoned it will take him two days to set it up again. But there are other problems: the Israeli soldiers knocked over the water barrels and feeding troughs he used for his 150 sheep. One sheep is pregnant and sick. His wife is sick, he’s sick, and he’s sleeping in a cave.

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Radi Hamali, 64, says he will stay on his land, “if God wills, until death.” (PNN Images)

“I say to Barack Obama, come and look at this!” he said. “This is my land, this is the land of my father, of my grandfather. I call on all Europeans to come help me, everyone in the West, everyone in the [Palestinian] Authority, all people and journalists. I will stay on our land, if God wills, until death.”


Related news items:

PNN – Palestine News Network – In Wake of Fourth Demolition, Tana Villagers Vow to Rebuild.

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