November 24, 2023     Wadi Jḥeish. Text: David Shulman, Photographs: Margaret Olin and David Shulman

Wadi Jḥeish, 2018. Photograph: Margaret Olin

Toward sunset we arrive, Yigal, Koby, and I. It’s my first time in Wadi Jḥeish (probably “Valley of the Mules”):  a tiny hamlet of some 60 souls, all part of the large Nawaja‘ family that we know from nearby Susiya. Houses of cement blocks and stucco with flat roofs of aluminum and plastic. A trellis of dry grapevines. Potted plants and small garden plots of desert flowers. Rock underfoot. Two tall water tanks behind the houses, higher up the hill.  A sheep pen. A few trees, including a small olive grove. Many children. From every spot you stand or sit, a wide-open stretch of the brown, stone-ripe hills. They’ve never been more ravishing. The village has changed since Peg saw it in 2018, when it was mostly tents; it’s more solid now, but no less vulnerable. Someone has drawn and painted red and white hearts, lots of them, on both sides of the door to the kitchen and sitting room, where we are to sleep. There’s also an inscription: baytkum ‘āmir bi’l-afrāḥ, May your house be filled with celebrations.

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From Yigal Bronner and David Shulman: A new, urgent call to action

The barbaric attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th has set off a bloody war whose end no one can foresee and whose main victims are, again, innocent civilians. That attack is also proving to be a huge boon to extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

a room and a shop in Susiya, and a break during field work. photographs: Margaret Olin

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October 22, 2023   Mu‘arrajat. Text by David Shulman, Photographs by David Shulman and Margaret Olin

Walls of the guest house in Mu‘arrajat. photographs: David Shulman, 2023

Very hard times. The hardest I have known. Like everyone, I’ve suffered grievous losses in my life. I buried a young, brilliant student, Liat. I’ve been to war. I’ve seen awful things happen to my friends on the West Bank. But worst of all is to watch the moral disintegration of a community, my home.

None of us here will ever recover fully from the horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th. Hamas has given new meaning to the word “inhuman.” You’ve seen the pictures and read the words.

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‘Ein Samiya, Al Baqa’a‘, Wadi a-Siq, July 19, 2023. Text and photographs: Margaret Olin


Two days ago occupation forces demolished the school in ‘Ein Samiya.

The school was the only building left standing in May when the villagers packed up and fled. In one of our posts, David Shulman related how, after months of terrorism by Jewish settlers, the occupation forces dealt the final blow by handing over a whole flock of sheep to settlers. I had not seen `Ein Samiya, so in July, when I came to Jerusalem, I asked activist Arik Ascherman, director of the NGO Torat Tzedek, to take me there. He readily agreed. Now feels like the right moment to post these pictures.

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Muarrajat, January 20, 2023. Text: David Shulman

‘Auja, May, 2022. Photograph: Margaret Olin

Umm Rashid, the most intrepid of the ‘Auja shepherdesses, has sold off most of her sheep and goats. I don’t have all the details; a close friend of hers sold her herd a few months earlier. I assume she couldn’t take any more of the ceaseless harassment, beatings, and threats from the settlers. But I don’t think this is the end of the story.

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December 2, 2022 Al-‘Auja. Text: David Shulman. Photographs: Margaret Olin and David Shulman

August, 2022

Just after dawn, the air still cold; Umm Rashid tells us on the phone that she plans to take the herd deeper into the hills, closer to the big settlement, where there’s more edible green on the ground. Good, we say, we’re with you. But it takes some time before we find each other in the open spaces of the desert. A second herd, Nawal’s, is just visible on the top of the ridge.

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