In June 2002, the government of Israel decided to erect a physical barrier to separate Israel and the West Bank in an attempt to minimize the entry of Palestinian terrorists into the country. This has partially solved today's terrorist infiltration problem but has caused grief and pain to innocent Palestinians in every area in which it was constructed, along the 1967 Green Line. In the southern region of Mt. Hebron, the movement of Palestinians who are coming into the country to find work has been disrupted. These people and their families are paying the price for the system of collective control that Israel has decided to implement with the erection of the Separation Barrier.
Every wall has its weak points. For a young man determined enough, it becomes a way of life- waiting for the right moment, for the pre paid accomplice driver waiting on the other side, depending on his faithful cell phone and on his buddies, all of whom are adjusting strategies to accommodate for the Separation Barrier.
The village of Ar Ramadin in the southern region of Mt Hebron presents a unique example of the kind of effect that the separation barrier has had. The village was established by the Bedouin tribe Ar Ramadin whose former lands, in areas north of Beer Sheva, they abandoned in the face of oncoming Israeli troops in the War of Independence in 1948. The lands the tribe left became part of the new Jewish state and the Ar Ramadin were forced to purchase land from Palestinian land owners in Dahariya, an Arab falachim village 12 kilometers to the north.
The Bedouins of Ar Ramadin are being perceived as Palestinians by the Jews and as Bedouin by the Palestinians. Both positions, for the Ar Ramadin represent an unfavorable choice. Clearly, the question of loyalties is a work in progress, undergoing formative influences. Loyalties made due to familiarity between the Ar Ramadinim and their Jewish neighbors have begun to crumble as a result of the physical barrier that lessens daily contact or that forces them into the role of unwanted intruders.
The 4 kilometer area of the fence just outside the village is notoriously easy to slip through. It seems that the Israeli government has not yet committed to completely closing down this area of fence in an attempt to accommodate for the very real necessity of relieving the pressure for employment that is building up on the other side. The sight of Bedouin workers escaping through the loopholes in the fence does not contribute to strengthening the Jews’ perception of them as innocent partners.
As the Arab world is historically changing by the day and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are on hold once again….. One cannot predict what will happen next in this never ending conflict.
The lives of the Ar-Ramadin people (caught between the hammer and the envil within a conflict that shows no signs of ending), as well as many others in Israel, and the West Bank, will soon change forever.
on going project: 2009-2011/2012