Salayme family

Location: Shuhada Street
Members of household: 3
Jamila, mother, 50 years old. Retired, formely worked in Kindergarten
Abed, son, 20. Studies English Literature at Hebron University, H1.
Israa, daughter, 16. At school in H1
(first daughter, 18, married and living in H1 with husband and child)

The house is over 200 years old, dating from the Ottoman period. The house has been in the family for generations. Their home is surrounded by settlers who throw stones and dirty water at the house, and who have come into the building many times. These attacks usually come from children under 12 who are not considered legally responsible and therefore cannot be held accountable by the Israeli police, but older settlers are involved as well. A neighbouring Palestinian house which is now empty is frequently invaded by settlers who use the building as a base from which to attack the Salayme family home. A few months ago, settlers broke into this neighbouring house and threw rocks into the family’s yard. As is often the case, this happened during the night so that the attackers’ identity remained concealed and the Israeli police therefore refused to take action on the case. Since the Israeli police will not protect the family, the TIPH and Hebron Rehabilitation Committee resorted to placing a grill ceiling over the yard and barbed wire around the entrance to the neighbouring house. They have also needed to make the dividing wall higher to protect themselves from these attacks. Yet when asked if they have ever considered leaving their home, the answer was an emphatic “no”- the home belonged to their father and previous generations and should remain in their family for future generations.

They suffer from water supply problems, especially in the Summer. Whilst there is no problem with the main electricity supply, the settlers often used to cut the electricity wires and water pipes to the house, forcing the family to set new wires inside the walls.

Jamila is divorced from the children’s father who now lives in H1 where he has a tailor’s shop. He used to have two shops in H2, both on Shuhada Street, but since 1994 it became difficult to keep them open because of their location. Both shops have been permanently closed under military order since 2006. This has put them in a difficult financial situation. Jamila and her children rely on financial support from Jamila’s family and the children’s father.

Abed tells of the curfew during the 2nd Intifada. He and his father would have to sneak out the back of the house and up the hill to get to the market. They were shot at by soldiers. He was only eight years old but was not allowed to go to his school because of the curfew. His school was in H1 and so his classmates were still able to continue classes.

Jamila says that they are used to the situation in H2. In H1, she says, people live very differently.  People in H1 don’t care or think about the people who live in H2, although they wouldn’t accept such living conditions for themselves. For people living in H2, though, the occupation has become normal. Abed adds that as children they grew up thinking that this isolation, even from people in the same city, is normal. Jamila can’t stand it when she goes to H1 and sees how little people there care about the situation, so she comes back to H2 and accepts being there more readily. Several men that have come to visit their home to propose to her daughter have run away, too scared to be in H2 – they neither want nor need people who are scared, she says. Israa does not want to marry someone from H1 – she wants to go abroad.

Jamila has lived there for over 25 years and there have been countless attacks on the house – stones, fires, arson, and also on her ex-husband’s shop. The settlers can do whatever they want. One month ago a teenage settler came into their hallway and threw stones which broke glass. She went to a soldier to complain, asking why they weren’t doing anything. She “touched” the boy to indicate to the soldier who had been throwing the stones, and she was subsequently arrested and charged 1000 shekels (which B’Tselem paid).

One year ago, during Ramadan, soldiers threw soundbombs into the house and then entered wearing masks and war paint. Jamila, screaming with anger, collapsed in the house.

The family agree that they don’t think the situation will get better, but they hope it will.