Every day, as the early morning sun rises, the octogenarian Ahmad Bani Odeh “Abu Khalaf” leaves his house in Khirbet Makhoul in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, to go alone to cultivate his land adjacent to his primitive house, and graze his sheep within its 400 dunams.
Bani Odeh, who is 85 years old, clings to his land, not leaving it for a single moment for decades, despite the decisions of the Israeli courts aiming to rob it. The land of the fathers and grandfathers is a new prey for six settlements, which devour most of them and surround the rest from all directions, the most prominent of which are the settlements of “Ro’i” and “Hamdat”.
The area inhabited by Hajj Bani Odeh is considered one of the Bedouin ruins that witness the Israeli displacement plans, as it is also besieged by four military sites of the Israeli army, most notably “Al-Hamra”, “Zokah”, and “Sawara” of the Israeli army unit called “Kfir”. The lands of the people of “Khirbet Makhoul” are an open training area for the occupation soldiers.
A battered guard
«Emirates Today» made a long way, in order to reach the place of residence of Hajj Bani Odeh, starting from the village of «Wadi Al-Maleh» located in the heart of the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, specifically east of Tubas Governorate in the northern West Bank, and then heading southeast, via roads A rugged, winding slope and height, leading to a semi-flat area, located between mountainous hills of varying heights.
Here, since he was a child, the octogenarian pilgrim lives, to be called “the guard of Khirbet Makhoul”, after the occupation displaced the majority of its inhabitants. Whoever removed the occupation from its entire homes, and displaced it from within its land.
“From Nablus, Tubas and Jericho to the Jordan River, ask about Abu Khalaf Bani Odeh, everyone will tell you that he has been a guard (Khirbet Makhoul) for 75 years,” the Palestinian Bani Odeh told Emirates Today, in a pure Bedouin accent.
Abu Khalaf continues his speech, saying, “In 1945, my mother left to be with her Creator, and two years later my father joined her, to become an orphan at the age of ten, to make my father’s way immediately, as I took the sheep and luggage, to roam the entire valley, grazing the cattle, from Khirbet Alcoholic to the Jordan River.
And inside the ruins of the Bedouin communities, the years of its guard, Abu Khalaf, continued, to marry and have boys and girls on his land, which he has been plowing since his early childhood until today, and planting various types of trees and fruits inside it.
The Palestinian pilgrim indicates that Khirbet Makhoul has been subjected to a fierce attack of appropriation and displacement over the course of 56 years. In 1967, 170 Palestinian families lived on its land, and after a year this number decreased to 60 families, and in 1970 the number of Bedouin families reached 25, and this number has become It continued to decrease until 2013, when the Israeli forces displaced the residents and destroyed the village, leaving only five families left.--
Resilience in the face of attacks-
Inside a house made of tin, wood and fabrics, like tents in particular, Abu Khalaf spends the succession of days, day and night, not caring about the bitter cold of winter and heavy rains. On what his hands plant from the fruits and crops.
These images of toil and struggle of the owner of the eight contracts find someone distorting them. Abu Khalaf, the heads of his cattle, and the crops of his land did not surrender one day from the attacks carried out by settlers around the clock without interruption, with absolute security protection from the Israeli army stationed inside the military sites.
While he monitors the movement of his sheep for fear of settlement damage, the Palestinian pilgrim says, “I faced severe suffering from the attacks of the occupation forces, the ambitions of settlement expansion and military training sites, and I became the only witness to this day to the demolitions of the homes of the ruined families, and their forced displacement from their lands.”
carry out his father’s will
Bani Odeh goes on to say, “The Israeli attacks against Khirbet Makhul are very harsh, and they affect all our properties, from the demolition of homes and livestock houses, the leveling of agricultural lands, as well as the spraying of toxic pesticides on crops, and the demolition of water networks used in agricultural irrigation and watering livestock, but that My will will not weaken, and I will remain here in my land and the land of my father, as he commanded me, until the last moment of my life.”
He added, “In 1995, my children moved to live in the town of Tammun in Tubas, as a result of the escalating attacks and the continuous settlement violence. My wife settled next to me, helping me in raising livestock and making cheese, until 2015, when her health condition did not allow her to live in Khirbet, so she moved To my children’s house, and I remained here as a thorn in the side of the occupation and its settlements.
• Khirbet Makhoul is subjected to a fierce attack of confiscation and displacement over the course of 56 years. In 1967, 170 Palestinian families lived on its land. A year later, this number decreased to 60 families. In 1970, the number of Bedouin families reached 25, and this number is constantly decreasing until In 2013, the Israeli forces displaced the residents and destroyed the village, leaving only five families left.
• Bani Odeh, who is 85 years old, clings to his land, not leaving it for a single moment for decades, despite the decisions of the Israeli courts aimed at confiscating it.
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