Tamir:

"... they want to scare and despire us, they want us to leave the are, that is why they do this. But we are not leaving. We are here because we exist..."

Tamir or Abu Taleeb (The Father of Taleeb) is shoemaker and lives in the H2 are of Hebron's Old City.

I met Tamir and his family the day when a group of young Palestinian and foreign volunteers met in his lands to harvest olives.

This group of volunteers went to help Tamir and his family because they practically live surrounded by Israeli settlers.

The old City of Hebron is divided in two areas: H1 under Palestinian control and H2 under Israeli control. This is the only Palestinian city where the stettlers are actually inside the city and not in the nearby settlements. Both zones are divided by a military check-point, which must be crossed by whoever wants to enter the H2 area.

 

 

Currently there 400 settlers living in the H2 area, who are protected by between 2,500 to 3,000 soldiers; and also about 30,000 Palestinians live in that area.

This has aroused tension in the area and for Tamir the work of harvesitng olives has turned very complicated, beyond the physical effort it may require.

Tamir has to face the attacks of the settlers who are protected by the Israeli police and soldiers.

To harvest olives takes time, as each one of the olives must be picked from the tree by hand, one by one. Therefore, this year Tamir was helped by a group of volunteers.

Harvesting olives that day was not easy, all the work was done while the volunteers were completely surronded by Israeli soldiers, policemen and settlers, who constantly provoked the Palestinian and foreign volunteers.

 

 

Tamir told me that in previous years when he and his family harvested the olives they were frequently attacked by settlers who threw stones at them while they were farming.

The settlers also steal Tamir's olives. Tamir explains that the settler attacks do not only occur during the olive harvesting season, but it may happen at any given moment or place.

The soldiers frequently arrive at Tamir's house to raid it, usually they arrive late at night during working days. "They enter in the house and mess everything, they break things and they do not let my children sleep even when they have school the following day, they also ruin the furniture. They enter my house and force us to go all together to one room. Whenever this happens the following day my children are scared of going out and encountering the settlers," Tamir said.

 

 

Tamir and his family not only have to face the soldiers, but also the settlers, he said that when his wife makes laundry, the settlers would come and make it dirty again.

Last year, the Israeli authorites gave Tamir a permit to harvest his olives, only for one day and a couple of hours. The pretext was that this would ensure that he would not to be attacked by the settlers when harvesting. Of course, this short period was not enough, so he continued harvesting the olives out of the permitted time, until he was arrested.

Tamir was arrested for harvesting olives out of time.

Laughing, Tamir told me that at the moment when he was arrested, he was carrying a bucket full of olives, which until know continues to stay at the same place where he was arrested, as the soldiers had ordered that nobody is allowed touch it.

 

Tamir knows that he and his family cannot harvest all the olives in one day, so they need the help of volunteers. However, he told me that the presence of volunteers does not solve everything, because even if this way the olives can be harvested in one day, there is more tension, as the presence of the soldiers and settlers near his house increases. They just go to provoke the volunteers trying to incite clashes, he said.

"When there are a lot of people near my house, the presence of the stettlers increases, as well as their attacks," Tamir said.

Tamir said that whenever his children leave the house to go to school or to other places he is worried, because the settlers can attack them.

Tamir used to live in another house in the north of Hebron until Israel confiscted 30 dunums of his land and the soldiers and the settlers forced him to leave.

The house where he lives now is rented. Tamir decided to live in the H2 for two reasons. He explained: "There is the economic reason, which is important, but not the most important; and there is the political reason. If Palestinians give up, the settlers will occupy more Palestinian houses until the moment comes when there will not be one Palestinians left in the H2 area."

 

 

"I live here to confirm my existence and prove that we are going to continue our presence in this land," Tamir said.

"The settlers want to scare us and to drive us to despair, they want us to leave this area, that is why they do all this. But we are not leaving. That is why we are here, because we exist and we are not going to allow them to kick us from our lands. This is our land and we ae not going to give up," Tamir said.

Tamir also said that he know he is quite alone in this struggle, and he asked me: "Where are all those large international organizations of Human Rights, the UN? We have lived through 40 years of occupation and where are they? what are they doing?"

When I left, Tamir told me that he dreams on the day when Palestinians can live safe in their land and the settlers leave.

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