World Bulletin / News Desk
In Masafer Yatta, in al-Khalili in Palestine there are at least 1,300 people living in caves. The Palestinians living here have resided in this area for decades, many since before the Israeli occupation began in 1967. However, in the 1980s the Israeli authorities designated most of this area, including 14 communities, as a closed military zone for training, a so-called “Firing Zone 918".
"We live the same way my ancestors used to. It is a very simple life; we live with the seasons, taking care of the flock, harvesting the fields. We collect water from two wells, and a power generator provides electricity," according to Mahmoud Hussein Hamamdi, who lives in Um Faqarah, a cave hamlet where the Israeli military has prevented the building of any new structures.
Their lives here have also not been left alone by the IDF. In 2003, their water well was vandalized by having an animal carcass thrown into it, and they have had regular roadblocks cutting access to the four Palestinian villages. Their lives are under constant threat with some families' homes which they built on top of the caves to accomodate their expanding families have been demolished by the IDF.