Khalid Samih Hammed Draghmeh ”Abu Jamal”, a Palestinian citizen from the eastern Al-Laban village, Ramallah district, head of a seven members family, lives in an old khan located on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus, the area of the khan and the lands surrounding it are more than 22 km square, and it is surrounded by a settlements conglomerate grouping the settlements of “ Ma’aleh Labuneh”, “ Shilo”, and “Eli” settlements. The site of the khan prevents linking the settlement of “ Ma’aleh Labuneh” with the rest of the settlements that extend from the Jordan Valley to the green line.
The beginning of the story to seize the khan
The Israeli ambitions towards the Khan area started to appear and crystallize in 2003, when settlers started a direct attack on it. Only in 2007 they managed to occupy it and settle in it for 3 months, pushing Abu Jamal to address the Palesitinan National Authority and the Palestinian legal NGOs, but to no avail.
Based on the request of the Israeli civil administration, Khalid filed papers that prove his ownership of the land to the occupation court. But this did not lead to the evacuation of the settlers from his land. In the meanwhile the settlers had already built a kitchen and brought a moving bathroom, and raised the flag of “Israel” over the house to notify everyone that the area was under the Israeli control. The organized events and held religious rituals in the house and the region.
Abu-Jamal says: “The fact that I hold the tabou [property] papers proves my ownership of the land, but this didn’t deter the settlers from staying in the place. What caused them to evacuate it in the end is our continuous resistance and what we did to intimidate them, so they left because we did not leave them alone and because they saw that there is resistance from the real owners of the land. After they evacuated the house, I moved back with my family from our house in the village to live in the khan”.
After the settlers evacuated Khalid’s land and he returned with his family to live in the khan, the settlers began with their attempts to push him to evacuate the place again. Over the following three years, once they offer him joint ventures with the settlers, other times they sent him intelligence officers or rabbis to press him to abandon the land or sell it to them. They offered him a lot of money to lure him to abandon his land, but rejection was the only answer to their offers.
7 years of steadfastness
After the failure of the direct and indirect temptations and pressures on Abu Jamal to abandon the khan and the land surrounding it, the settlers turned to assaults, vandalism and a policy of direct threats. They began demolishing the delimiting walls that he had built in his land, and uprooted the trees he planted and killed his horse which he used to plow the ground with. The military arrested him 6 times and settlers abused him and his family. Abu Jamal adds: “One time, at 1 pm in the afternoon, we were surprised with the presence of more than 35 settlers holding weapons, sticks and pipes to drive me and my family out of the house by force. They brutally attacked my family. They didn’t come only to scare us, they wanted to kill us. They attacked my wife and my children. We had to defend ourselves and our right and we stood up to those aggressors. Nevertheless, that day I had to bring my wife and my children to the hospital due to the beating they suffered from these savage settlers”.
Khalid Draghmeh “Abu Jamal” received notifications from the Israeli army in the years 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010 asking him to leave the khan although he has the papers that prove his ownership of the khan and the lands surrounding it.
“This is our life and this is our struggle, and we will not give up and we will not get out of the khan, and I’m not going to leave my home and my land”
Khalid Draghmeh consider his endurance in the khan is a protection to that area form the continued settlement expansion. Through controlling this area the Israeli authorities seek to link the settlements with each other within the systematic settlement expansion policy that they implement to control the Palestinian territories and to dismember the land in separate ghettos in the west and the south, center and north and to confiscate the remaining Palestinian lands as a continuation of the ethnic cleansing of area “C” in the West Bank.
The steadfastness of Khalid and his family make them vulnerable to the continuous settlers attacks but Khalid is proud that he and his family are fighting to prove their right in the khan. He knows that by confronting the daily settlers attacks he is a thorn in the side of their expansion and an obstacle in front of the occupation’s plans in the region, and he says: “This is our land and this is our struggle, and we will not give up and we will not get out of the khan, and I’m not going to leave my house or my land.”