Voices from the Holy Land: Part four
The United Reformed Church has agreed to further its work in connection with Israel/Palestine, promoting awareness, prayer and solidarity. As part of this commitment, a team of URC representatives visited Israel and Palestine last autumn. In this series, Charissa King shares stories from people they met
Eid Abu Khamis
Bedouin village, Al-Khan al-Ahmar, West Bank
According to international laws, education is a right. Here, it is forbidden.
Before we built the school, our children were either walking 22km to Jericho, or 14km to Al-Eizariya, biblical Bethany. Five children were killed on the road in traffic accidents and many were injured. People weren’t sending their daughters. I sent my daughter to school in Jericho but every evening, me or my wife had to look out for her in the mountains, halfway home.
We asked the Israeli army in 1991 for permission to build a school in this area. They wouldn’t allow it. So we asked for a school bus. Every Israeli settlement has a bus, taking their children 500 metres to school. But they wouldn’t give us a bus. When the Palestinian Authority (PA) came into power, we asked them for the bus. They said we’d get a 50-seater. We had a huge celebration. To this day, that bus hasn’t arrived.
When we went to the schools to find out how our kids were doing, the teachers would say they hadn’t been for two weeks. The kids would dress in school uniforms, go 2km down the road, hide in the mountains, come back at the end of the day and say they were in school. In the end, we decided to build the school here.
It’s forbidden for Palestinians to build with cement or blocks here. We found on the internet that in South America people build with mud and used car tyres, so we did that. People came to help from all over the world, including leftwing Israelis. I will remember this picture until my last days: meal breaks, on the floor, mud on our hands, Bedouin, Israelis and Europeans eating together…
Eid’s responses were translated, with approval, from Hebrew to English. Charissa King is Production and Marketing Officer for Reform
This is an extract from an article that was published in the May 2020 edition of Reform