Night. We arrive in El-Araqib, a village northern to Beer-Sheva. People and animals are running around between the tents and houses. There is great tension in the air, and a silent question on the faces of our hosts- will they come or not?
It’s nearly dawn. It’s dark. 8-9 youngsters from the village are dancing and singing around the bonfire. Other fires are burning on the hills around us, throwing black smoke of burning tires on the already black sky. Warning. Hinting of a coming danger. Will they come or not?
Lines of lights are coming from every direction. A line and another line and another line. The first sun rays are lighting between hundreds of vehicles. Units of soldiers in black, with masked faces. Marching. drawn guns. Surrounding the village. They came.
The valleys around are full of military vehicles. Helicopters and RPV’s are in the air. The sun has shined. We count soldiers, than cars, than buses. There are thousands here. And we’re starting to become despaired.
Soldiers with masked faces are running into the village. Some residents and activists that stood in their way get hit, are pushed backwards and thrown on the floor. A young lady is pushed, looses her balance, falls on the rocks and shouts from pain. Above her stands a soldier in black uniforms, his face masked, and laughs are laughter I will never forget.
Tractors enter the village, smashing the tin shacks, shattering, uprooting every thing that happens to be in their way. The residents watch, too exhausted to even shout. Suddenly one of them shouts in pain when the tractor pulls out the olive trees “at least leave the trees alone, what have they done wrong? We’ve been growing them for ten years.” “So that you won’t have even shade” one of the police men mumbles.
A small Bedouin child is walking between the ruins of what used to be his house. I don’t know how he passed the chain of police around the village. A colorful peace of fabric pokes out of the piles of dust, attracting his attention. Suddenly a police man appears and sees the child. With a wave of a hand, like one kicks away a fly, he gestures to the kid to get away. The kid walks a bit, but after a few steps he can’t restrain himself, stops, looks behind his shoulder. The police man waves his hand again. The kid goes away.
And another picture
The village has been destroyed. Broken water tanks drip water on the dry soil. A chicken hides under the branches of a cut olive tree. A few soldiers photograph themselves as a souvenir next to a big pile, which was a home of a family, an hour earlier. The soldiers are laughing, stand hugged. They seem happy.
One of our activists is crying his heart out. Standing, leaning on the car and sobbing quietly. I want to hug him, tell him that every thing will be all right, but I can’t. I can’t find in myself a tiny bit of strength to help. There is nothing in me.
And the future picture
I hated you today, bastards, like I never hated a man in my life. But it will not work. In the last picture you will see people who will rebuild their houses. From the sand and the desert. With the help of the citizens here that still have a drop of humanity in them.
In the last picture you will see olive trees being planted and growing, and tents and houses rebuilt.
In the last picture you will see El- Araqib coming back to life. You will not erase it.