Members of household: 7
Zidan, father, a plumber by trade.
Rajha, mother, housewife.
4 children – Yazan, Waad, Yusef, Rand (aged 2 and a half to 12 years old)
The Sharabati family have been in this home for more than 65 years. They previously lived in a big family house in the Old City, close to what is now the Avraham Avinu settlement. But when the family became too big, some of them left the home to live elsewhere. Part of the Sharabati family was still living there until 6 years ago when soldiers/settlers welded the door shut while they were inside. After two days they managed to get out and subsequently abandoned the house which is now closed by military order. Most of the family went to Jerusalem, some to Amman, some to H1, and some to this house in H2. Although they live on Shuhada Street, they have not been able to walk down the main section of the road since the time before 2000 – Zidan’s mother doesn’t even remember what it looks like.
Zidan is a plumber and used to work in Israel. This became too difficult after the Gulf war, but he was still able to find work in the West Bank for some time. However there is little to no work for him now. This is partly because of the restrictions on movement for Palestinians in H2, but also because of a physical disability caused by settler violence. He cannot work in the sun or dust because of the injury to his eye. As well as the physical violence, Zidan and his family suffer from psychological trauma as a result of the settlements and the occupation. Zidan himself has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and his children frequently suffer from nightmares and wetting the bed. Members of his extended family have also been diagnosed with depression, and the heightened levels of stress because of the occupation have contributed to Zidan’s mother’s high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.
His children all go to the school nearby in H2. The oldest son will soon go to school in H1, which will make things difficult due to the checkpoint – he will need to go to school and come back in groups. The children need the TIPH and other international observers to be present to protect them from settlers’ attacks – the army will not protect them. At the beginning of the academic year in 2011 the school teachers were refused entry through the checkpoint for 17 days, during which they held their classes outside the checkpoint, on the street in H1. When one day the children held a peaceful demonstration on the H2 side of the checkpoint, the police beat and pushed them around with such force that 7 or 8 of them had to be taken to hospital. Some of the children were even pushed onto barbed wire. Zidan’s son and his brother’s daughter were among the hospitalized children.
As already mentioned, the children have bad dreams, they scream and wet the bed at night. “They are like prisoners,” they have no place to play and think that all of Hebron is like this as they know nothing else. It is too dangerous for them to even play in the street. One and a half years ago his 12 year old niece was walking on the pavement when a settler car mounted the pavement and hit her. The driver got out of the car, only to ask her about the broken mirror, hitting her with his hand.
Zidan’s family has many medical reports, over 20 relating just to Zidan. There has not been a single year in which he has not spent a night in hospital. Not one single case has been acted upon by the Israeli police. Incidents include beatings by IOF troops, settler violence including stone-throwing, and being hit by a soldier’s car.
In one such case 4 years ago, Zidan was injured when settlers threw stones at him as he was sitting on his balcony. He was hit in the eye and as a result he now cannot see in that eye. He has made many complaints to the police but they proved useless. This is the injury previously mentioned that prevents him from working in dusty conditions or in strong sunlight.
The military restrictions mean that ambulances cannot reach their home so when Zidan’s mother is ill she has to be carried to the checkpoint where the ambulance can pick her up. A few days before this interview was conducted she had been in hospital. Once discharged she had to stay in H1 until she felt better so that she would be able to reach the hospital quickly if need be.
In the1970s, when the settlement started in Beit Hadassah, settlers came to the house, accusing someone of throwing stones. They pushed their way in to the house and turned to Zidan’s brother, beating him, and then dragged him out of the house and into the Beit Hadassah settlement. For more than 2 months his family heard no news of him. Once he was released he suffered from depression – he was only 20 years old and had been studying to be an electrician in Bethlehem, but he dropped everything and moved to Saudi Arabia.
In 1982, a Fatah attack on some of Hebron’s settlers took place in the immediate vicinity of the house. This is when the attacks on the house and the surrounding area really began to increase in frequency and aggression, in spite of the fact that the family had no relation whatsoever to the armed attack. Following this operation, Mr. Sharabati and his neighbour were taken to the police station and ordered to sell their homes. He was offered $3 million but refused. Then he was offered an open cheque and a flight to the USA which he once again he refused. Subsequently, for seven days the Sharabati family was forced by soldiers to live in only one room of their house – one room for kitchen, toilet, everything. Zidan says that the Israeli government wants these houses for settlement expansion. Many families were punished similarly at this time. As a result of this harassment, the Sharabati family moved out of their home briefly before deciding that even if they were beaten every morning, afternoon and night, it was best for them to remain in their house. They will never be coaxed out of their home by money. Zidan’s mother adds emphatically that they will never move out.
In 1999, Zidane was in the street just outside the home when soldiers started to beat him. His father, an old man at the time, saw what was happening from the window. As he hurried down the stairs to reach his son he slipped on the stairs. Zidan’s mother then went down to the street, not realising how badly hurt her husband was. When she reached the street, she and her other son were detained and taken to the police station whilst Zidan was taken to the hospital. There was no-one left to help Zidan’s injured father, and he died from his injuries on the stairs. Zidan says that it was the occupation that killed his father.
Due to all the attacks from settlers, B’Tselem (with the permission of the Israeli authorities) placed cameras on the Sharabati house which watched into the house and out on to the street. Yet shortly afterwards, the army invaded the house with a large dog to remove the cameras. Everyone was very afraid. The cameras were removed in response to the demand of settlers. They did not want their aggressions towards the Sharabati family and their home to be exposed and so the settlers had the cameras’ permission revoked. Once the cameras had been removed, the settlers started throwing stones once again and they have since entered into the home many times.