Steel bars surround the home, not only sliding down the windows, but all over the place, covering it from every side and corner, covering its doors, covering its external yard and topping its walls, making it look like a box, at first you might think it is a big cage for birds, and maybe some animals, but if you look closer, you will find 15 members of Abu Aisha family living there, in their home, that was transformed into a prisoner due to illegal settlement activities, and extremist, fundamentalist Israeli settlers.The home is Mohammad Hamed Abu Asiha, is there, and has always been there, but now, it is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements in the heart of the Old City of Hebron, surrounded by Beit Hadassah settlement, Beit Romano and above that by an Israeli military base, wall-to-wall with their home.
Heading home or leaving it requires a permit, a permit from an army that occupies the city, an army that is not there to protect, but to oppress you.
The owner, Hajj Abu Aisha, said that he owns the land, since fifty years now, but now, he is imprisoned in his own home.
“I own this land, I built my home on my own land, I live there, and I also rent part of the building out, but in 1984, Israel constructed the illegal Ramat Yishai settlement, and that was when the first on ongoing attacks, against us, started, “Abu Aisha said, “They want us to leave, not only our property, they want us out of the whole area, this is exactly what happened with the family of Zackariah Al-Bakry, when the settlers took his two-story home, and expanded their illegal colony”.
The seventyish old man is there, and will remain there, Israel’s violations, attacks and arbitrary searches is still part of his life, but he turned his home into a “heaven on earth”, simply because it is his home, because, unlike those invaders, he is the owner of his property, while they are the occupiers.
Hajj Abu Aisha has many stories to tell, one of them happened when he was watering and tending to his small garden, a few olive trees, and a number of different plants; the settlers asked him to sell them his home, and his land, and he rejected their “offer”.
He told them he is willing to pay them so that they leave the illegal outpost. When the settlers realized how determined and steadfast he is, they stepped-up the series of endless attacks.
“Every member of my family has been harassed, verbally abused, and physically attacked by them”, the Hajj said, “Children, adults, women… you name it, all of them have been attacked and beaten by the settlers, they even have been hospitalized due to these attacks”.
The attacks have different types, ranging from beating, hurling stones, eggs and trash, to spraying them with waste-water, and ongoing death threats. The family cannot even open its windows, cannot communicate with Palestinian neighbors; their home became their prison.
Reema Abu Asiha said that nobody is able to visit them, her parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, nobody is allowed to visit them; nobody can.
“When my sons and daughters got married, nobody was allowed to come, we had to move the wedding reception to the houses of their uncles”, Reema added, “Even when we need to fix out home, we have to apply for a special permit from the military, yet, we are not allowed to bring construction materials in”.
She continues, with tears flowing down her cheeks; her eyes glossing and her lips moving in pain, “I lost two fetuses in the past, one in 1988, when the ambulance could not enter the area, and I had to walk to hospital while in labor.
A year later I became pregnant again, twins this time, we filed all needed documents, coordinated with the Red Cross one month before my due date, yet, when I was in labor, my husband called the ambulance, but due to Israeli restrictions it took them more than two and a half hours to arrive, by then, my twins were dead”.
The father complained that officials and journalists do not pay attention to their hardships, their misery and suffering.
“Last time we saw any official was in 2007, when the governor of Hebron, Areef Al-Ja’bary visited us”, he said, “The Press does not pay attention to us, even local Palestinian press agencies do not visit is, nobody cares about what is happening to us, nobody helps us”.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the occupied territory, B’Tselem, and the youth coalition against settlement, equipped the property with surveillance equipment to document the Israeli violations.
The family filed dozens of complaints, provided the Israeli police with videos and pictures of these attacks, but to no avail.
Hajj Abu Aisha said that every time he and his family were attacked, they filed complaints to the Israeli Police, adding that he keeps count for these attacks, and complaints, but nothing happened; the violations, or at least some of them were exposed, but the Police did nothing. B’Tselem even published the pictures and videos on their webpage expose these violations, but the Police would not do a thing about it.
But the videos managed to expose these violations, and even led to the release of Abu Aisha and some members of his family when they were arrested by the army and the police; the settlers have their own claims and their own share of fabrications, but the camera reflected the truth, what really happened, and exposed the lies of the settlers.
In one instance the Israeli Authorities even apologized for the family after a settler woman, the wife of extremist settler, Shalom AL Cobi, attacked the children of the family, cursed at them and terrified them, the video reached international media, and Abu Asiha said that ‘what was shown on TV stations, is only a small part of the real nature of the attacks’.
“What we’ve seen on TV is just a very small part, a small report on the bigger picture”, Abu Aisha said, “The violations we face are constant, we live through these attacks, day by day”.
In 2002, settler Shalom AL Cobi invaded the home of the family after breaking its main door, family members resisted his attack, and caught it on tape.
The family then filed a complaint, and the police admitted the video as evidence, the family was “victorious” this time, but it is still surrounded, imprisoned in its home, and repeatedly attacked.
The family is still there, living under constant harassment and attacks, physical and verbal abuse, but determined to stay.
“This is our home”, they would to you, “We will not leave it, and we will not abandon it, this is out home, and this is where we will stay”.