Hebron

Girl (Rajhad, school playground, Hebron)

Rajhad is looking out of the fence that protects her small school in central Hebron. The building is now built like a fortress following severe assaults by Zionist settlers in 2006, 2008 and 2009. In one instance, settlers set fire to the building while classes were taking place.

Like most children in the school, Rajhad has suffered heavy injuries from settler violence. The assailants are usually the children of nearby Zionist settlers, who throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to and from school. This usually happens under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers, who are ready to arrest Palestinian children but allow the settlers to operate with impunity.

With bitter irony, Rajhad says: ‘I want to beat a settler, so that they can be arrested like we are when settlers beat us.’

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Pride

Pride_by_Josh Jones

Bedouin children in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The children of this valley are put at constant risk by the live-fire exercises that Israeli military conduct in the area. Their mother told me how soldiers would set off explosives of all sorts, from gas bombs to sound grenades, on the hill pictured behind. The ground is then left dangerous, as many explosives remain undetonated.

These children remain strong, and the older brother insisted I try riding his horse – which I did, bareback, for the first time in my life.

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Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Milking

Milking_by_Josh Jones

While visiting the home of some Bedouin farmers in occupied Palestine, I was invited to try milking a sheep.

I was rubbish. Honestly, it’s harder than it looks. And it really feels funny, like a warm furry water balloon.

Later that evening, the farmers treated us to gallons of hot, sweetened goat’s milk. We left after nightfall, disturbed by their stories and humbled by their generosity.

A popular photo of mine depicts this boy and his little sibling, and can be found here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Father

Father

A man of the village of Furush Beit Dajan stands before the mud brick structure that he and his family were forced to live in after their home was demolished. Having destroyed their home, the Israeli civil service have prohibited the family from making any repairs to the dilapidated farm buildings they now have to inhabit.

He told me how one of his sons, aged five, was recently bitten by a poisonous snake while he slept. The snake had entered through one of the many holes in the building. The father rang the hospital but on hearing his location, the person on the end of the phone said, ‘Sorry, no Arabs.’

The father attempted to drive his son to the nearest emergency hospital, at Nablus, but was blocked at an Israeli military checkpoint and forced to return home. His son died later that night.

I cannot imagine how someone can retain their sense of humanity after such an incident. As we sat over sweet Palestinian tea, the father told me he did not want retribution. ‘All I want is the right to build, and access to water and electricity’, he said.

Out there it seemed to make sense, but having returned to Britain I am more and more bemused by the stoic humanity of the people I met in Palestine.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.