In Zanouta, the last inhabited point in the south of the West Bank… This is how the Palestinian lives the details of the past under duress

Hebron- With pleasure, Palestinian young man Adel Al-Tal (31 years) is keen to document the details of the lives of the residents in his village “Zanouta”, a small village in the last inhabited point in the south of the West Bank.

Adel overlooks his friends and followers via social networks, sitting with his mother, Maryam Al-Tal (Um Fayez), in the family cave, eating food, pouring his coffee, or preparing the famous Mansaf meal.

Palestinian Khirbet Zanouta lives a traditional life surrounded by Israeli settlements (Al-Jazeera)

He tells Al Jazeera Net that he enjoys all the details of his life, and is keen to pass them on to a generation of his followers who may not know much about the heritage of Palestine, whose family still preserves some details.

He is also active in communicating with journalists and solidarity activists and documenting Israeli violations against the assembly and its residents.

Winter gathers the Al-Tal family in its cave (Al-Jazeera)

Caves and ancientness

The residents of al-Khirbet (a small community) depend on agriculture and livestock, and each family has enough chickens, pigeons, and a tabun (a traditional oven) to prepare bread from wheat that it stores during the summer harvest, with the presence of fire stoves.

Entrance to the Cave of the Tal family (Al-Jazeera)

The population of the Palestinian community does not exceed 450 people. Many of them can live in bright white Palestinian stone houses, but they prefer ancient underground caves, and a simple life, despite its misery.

The Cave of the Al-Tal family includes everything they need in their daily life (Al-Jazeera)

The villagers make their living from the labor of their hands; Eggs, milk and its products and meat are all purely local production, in addition to the rain-fed vegetables produced by the land, the most famous of which is “Khubaizah”, in addition to old and heritage dishes such as waqqa (slices of dough similar to pasta) with milk or yogurt.

Most families have a building that resembles a mobile room used to receive guests, while they live the details of their lives in caves, which they say date back to the Roman era.

A side of the Al-Tal family cave (Al-Jazeera)

Local products and taboon

As soon as the guest arrives, Umm Fayez (67 years old) receives him with a cup of fresh buttermilk, and without his permission – and within moments – he is followed by a plate of fresh local products: butter, fried eggs with animal ghee, yoghurt, accompanied by loaves of hot taboon bread. , which is insatiable visitor.

If the guest stays for a long time, the family – like the rest of the residents of the community – only accepts cooking a head of lamb, for his sake.

Umm Fayez (Maryam Al-Tal) is self-reliant in preparing her food (Al-Jazeera)

Taboon bread is prepared in a circular oven made of clay, with a radius of no more than 40 centimeters, and it depends in the heat on a fire that gradually spreads with the remnants of the sheep that are buried in it.

Umm Fayez is proud of her time, the women of her generation and the circumstances of her life since her birth in the ruins until she became a grandmother, and she acknowledges that there is a difference between the daughters of her generation and the girls of the present time, although some of them share the same details of life with her.

Family chicken coop (the island)

But what is the secret of staying in the clothes of the past with its fatigue and hardship, with the opportunity to live in luxury on land and housing owned by her family in the nearby town of Al Dhahiriya, south of Hebron?

The Palestinian elderly woman says – to Al-Jazeera Net – “the jam is expensive” and means the place where she was born and lived, which was hereditary to her husband, that is, before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, and before the Nakba in 1948.

Taboon, a traditional oven for making bread (Al-Jazeera)

Umm Fayez points to another essential reason for her survival, no less important than the previous one, which is the settlement that has devastated most of the village’s lands, besieged it and crawled towards the rest of it. “We stand in the front trench to defend our land.”

She says, “If we leave Zenouta, we will not return to it,” and points to the many settlements, outposts and factories surrounding the Zenouta community.

Settlement projects on the lands of Khirbet Zanouta (Al-Jazeera)

Hardship and Siege

For his part, her son, head of the local council of the assembly, Azmi al-Tal, says that the residents of Zenota They bear the hardship resulting from the conditions of their lives, whether herding livestock, caring for them, milking them and manufacturing milk products that exceed 6 types, but the most difficult is the suffering resulting from the occupation and settlement.

The settlements took control of most of the residents’ lands, including pastures, which burdened them and caused losses that made some of them dispose of their livestock due to the high cost of fodder, according to the demand.

Other settlement projects on the lands of Khirbet (Al-Jazeera)

He added – speaking to Al Jazeera Net – the settlements took control of about 70% of the lands of the assembly, and the areas of pastures that the residents depend on to feed their livestock, estimated at about 5,000 heads, have decreased.

Almost daily, the head of the local council engages in altercations with settlers trying to crawl into the rest of the community’s lands, and considers this confrontation “the last opportunity available to repel settlement expansion.”

However, the assembly is not without some semblance of modernity. The residents depend on solar cells to generate electricity, and Adel uses his smartphone to shoot and publish, while the mother watches television in her spare time.

The Palestinian Khirbet Zanouta lives a traditional life, although it is surrounded by Israeli settlements (Al-Jazeera)

pursuit of demolition

In al-Khirbet there is an elementary school called “The Challenge.” It is a modest building that is roofed with zinc (iron tin) for the lower grades. It was demolished 3 times, then students wishing to complete their studies moved to the town of Ad-Dhahiriya.

Al Tahadi Elementary School in Zanouta (the island)

As for the local council, it is a small tin building in which the affairs of the ruins are managed, and through it communication with official authorities and reception of supporters and solidarity takes place.

The headquarters of the local council in Zanouta (the island)

Zanouta is located in Area C, estimated at 61% of the West Bank, according to the Second Oslo Agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, and is under full Israeli control.

The occupation authorities prevent any change to the reality in this area without their permission, and it is almost impossible to obtain it. Therefore, most of the buildings above the ground were demolished and reconstructed, as is the case for the local council, or a demolition notice was issued against them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.