Cave dwellers of Palestine: 'They destroy, I rebuild'

1,500 Palestinians living in caves of Masafer Yatta, located in the West Bank, have maintained the tradition which goes back to the Prophet Abraham

Cave dwellers of Palestine: 'They destroy, I rebuild'

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.

"They destroy, I rebuild,” shouted Rasmiya Mohammad moments after her home was raided by the Israeli army.
Her words resonate with every family who lives in the area, after Israel claimed the land as theirs.
 This is the Jinba cave hamlet, where the walls are carved out and plastered. A light shaft is used to haul in grains for storage and alcoves cut into the wall to store belongings.
Saheer Hamamdi prepares a traditional Palestinian dish called dawali with her sister in law. There is no kitchen or table, food is prepared, cooked and eaten on the ground.
The Hamamdi family built a house on top of their cave to accomdate their expanding family. Israel has ordered its demolition with the excuse being that the dwelling is "illegal".
The caves are usually divided into three areas with a living area, a cooking area and a storage area as well as a separate place to keep their livestock.
There is no running water in the hamlet. Residents are forbidden to collect rainwater.
The Palestinians in the hamlets rely on sheep, grains, olives, and the production of milk and cheese, following in the tradition of their ancestors.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ağustos 2015, 17:30