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Bedouin women capture village’s final moments before Israel demolishes it

A Bedouin woman protest against the demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces in Umm Al-Hiran on 18 January 2017 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]
A Bedouin woman protest against the demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces in Umm Al-Hiran on 18 January 2017 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]

Bedouin Palestinian women in the village of Umm Al-Hiran are using a photo book to capture the final moments of their community before it is demolished by Israeli authorities.

According to Haaretz, the recently-published book “Umm al-Hiran – Moments of Farewell to the Village” “features a collection of snapshots taken by women who live in the village that they will soon have to leave forever”.

The Israeli government is set to demolish Umm Al-Hiran, forcibly displacing its residents, in order to establish a new Jewish community – Hiran – in its place. Hundreds of families are being relocated to the Bedouin town of Hura, as part of a “compensation” agreement “signed under duress”.

The paper reported that “the sad period of bidding farewell to their soon-to-be-abandoned village has been documented by a group of Bedouin women who have been taking part in the Yusawiruna – Photographing for Human Rights, a project the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality has run for the past four years”.

READ: Israel forces Palestinian to demolish his and his daughter’s homes

“My biggest fear is what will be forgotten. It’s important to me to photograph in order to preserve memories from the village and my home,” says Rimal Abu Al-Kiyan, 35, a mother of five who was born and raised in Umm Al-Hiran.

I am fearful because our future is uncertain. When I’m photographing – the fear disappears. I wasn’t afraid to photograph even when they [the Israeli authorities] arrived at my home and gave us the evacuation order. The camera gives strength.

Haaretz noted that “Rimal’s family is supposed to move to Hura, but construction on their house there is not yet complete.”

“I feel like an alien in Hura. My home is here. This is where I was born. I belong to Umm Al-Hiran. It hurts to leave,” says Abu Al-Kiyan.

READ: Number of Palestinians Israel forced to demolish homes triples

In an introductory essay to the book, Israeli artist and photographer Miki Kratsman writes: “No photographic action or project is more correct or accurate than that of a community which is documenting itself – all the more so when this is being done by women who know they are acting as cameras for [preserving memories of] a place that will no longer exist.”

“As they photograph the final days of Umm Al-Hiran, glimpses of the Jewish community that will take its place are captured in the background. One tractor demolishes while another builds.”

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