Ramadin – policies of expulsion squeeze the Bedouin community
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Ramadin – policies of expulsion squeeze the Bedouin community

In Ramadin (south west Hebron) the Occupation bulldozers are presently completing the final sections of the Wall in the north-western part of the village. This part of the Wall will cut deep into the village lands and annex some 1700 dunums of land behind it to guarantee the expansion of the Askalot colony. This land has been used by the people for generations to graze their cattle. South-west of the village, the Wall has destroyed and isolated some 1550 dunums, also leaving no space for cattle to graze and grow. This part of the village has been de facto annexed to Sansana colony.
This huge land theft has left the people of Ramadin with hardly any land outside of their residential areas.

Extending from the north part of the village until the south-eastern part, the Apartheid Wall surrounds Ramadin from three sides. The forth side is blocked by the Tini colony and a military checkpoint. An Israeli-only road runs along the entire north-eastern side of the village and completes the imprisonment of the community. In the middle of this road, the military checkpoint which has been there for the past three years blocks the free movement of people.

The area has been declared a “security zone” for the surrounding settlements and the wall. Thus, villagers are completely isolated as the Zionist forces are not allowing anybody without Ramadin residency to enter the village. Even the people from Ramadin have to undergo inhuman procedures to pass to their own homes. Bringing food and other necessary goods into the village is made difficult and insufficient access to medical services renders life even more unbearable. The village council has reported cases of villagers that died at checkpoints, one of whom lost his life after a heart attack while undergoing “security procedures.” “This is their policy to expel us from our land” explains the head of the village council as the villagers in the area are facing a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

Ramadin village is home to some 4500 people. This Bedouin community has exited there for hundreds of years and has depended on raising goats and sheep. Until the wall imprisoned them, they used to travel freely with their cattle in an expansive area on either side of the Green Line. Their livelihoods depended on products from the cattle. Wool, cheese and dried yoghurt have been sold in the market in Hebron for decades. Now the Wall, which began to be constructed in October 2005, isolates them from their land and surrounding areas and from their markets. Last summer for the first time, the people from Ramadin had to buy food and water for their animals, with each metric cube of water costing about 200 NIS. The additional costs of raising animals coupled with the villagers’ inability to reach the market have forced them to start selling their goats and sheep leaving them with nothing to sustain themselves.

To be behind prison bars or in an open-air prison surrounded by cement walls, seems not to be a big difference for the villagers anymore. Both are prisons that are difficult to bear and require a strong spirit to remain steadfast. In a conventional prison however at least there is usually a set time for release. In the case of the villagers the only quick solution is to surrender to the pressure of expulsion. But all prisoners in Palestinian villages sandwiched between the Apartheid Wall and Zionist colonies refuse this option. They will continue to chant: “We will not allow another Nakba – we are staying and you will be the ones to leave”.