On Friday, Christian, Laura and I started out at 7 a.m. from the main road near Khirbet Bir al’Idd, on the edge of Firing Zone 918, and started walking, first to Jinba and then from there to other villages in the firing zone. We have been there before but entered from the opposite end and stayed closer to the desert visiting villages more to the north east. Now we entered from the southwest and wanted to visit about 5 villages. When we get to a hilltop we could see a village or two in the distance and would head that way. Of course, you lose sight of them as soon as you get a bit lower. We did manage to get to a few that we had not been to before. We found one family living apart from a village (Khirbet al Fakheit) about 300 metres away or so. What brought us to them is that we spotted camels in that direction and wanted a closer look. Then a lady waved and we walked to her home. There were 2 ladies and several children at home but no men. Normally then we would not then enter the home but she invited us for tea and we were happy to accept. We gave a brochure in Arabic explaining what we do. They would like electricity like the village has. So we will contact Hamed from UNOCHA or COMET ME about giving them a solar panel as there is in the village nearby. The younger woman could give us a phone number and a name so at least we could pass on that information since we had no idea how to describe where they lived. I also recorded some of the conversation and will have our interpreter listen to it if needed. Communication is a problem since our Arabic is greatly lacking.
We continued our long hike stopping to have an apple, some flat bread, a few nuts and water that Christian had the foresight to pack. We also visited Khirbit at Tabban and had tea there. There was one man who spoke some English and it was enjoyable. They had camels (the others we saw were wild), donkeys, chickens and sheep. He pointed us in the direction of At Tuwani where Operation Dove has their place and also we could phone our driver from there to pick us up. We finally arrived there at 2 p.m.
The villages we visited did not have military visits although they are all under demolition orders. They did say that the planes fly over quite often.
Seeing camels, shepherds, having tea with villagers and just walking was cathartic.