I stopped by to visit the Kahawish family and see how their plastic sheeting has held out, also to pass along some donations from UK sponsors. They were very welcoming, said the roof was fine (though the wind we had some days ago tested the work of those who put the nylon on the roof. Thankfully, their work was skillful and the nylon stayed).
Mohammed had just returned from the hospital, a check-up on his injured leg. The doctor, he said, recommended a diet of plenty of juice, milk, cheese and yogurt (calcium rich products),and staying away from coffee and tea (hard, I think he likes coffee as much as I).
The elderly Kahawish spoke also of his one cataract-covered eye. One year ago he went through the motions of applying for an exit permit to have surgery in Al Quds (Jerusalem), but he has yet to receive permission from the Israeli authorities. Indeed, this older man might be a security threat.
They offered me sweet coffee, which I gladly accepted.
As I left, kissing Hajji and her daughter goodbye, I accidentally leaned in to kiss Mohammed Kahawish, but suddenly realized who I was bidding goodbye. Embaressed, I apologized, to which Mohammed gallantly said “no need to apologize, you are like our daughter.”
[the incident reminded me of one of my favourite fatherly people in Susiya, in the south Hebron hills. I stayed for 3 months in the tents the Palestinians from the region have been reduced to living in because the Zionist-controlled housing permit deny Palestinians the right to build on their own land, bulldozing houses and tents that have the gall to be erected near the illegal Israeli settlements. I’d slept in the tents, along with other human rights activists, to dissuade settler attacks and record those that did occur.
(PAUSE: listening to the Israeli fighter planes flying over Gaza again, something we’ve all too quickly again accepted as ‘normal’. But the night flights are more jarring somehow.)
For all the troubles from the illegal Israeli settlers and the occupying Israeli forces surrounding Susiya, I had many nice days there, and am very fond of the people, mainly shepherds and farmers, who defy settler and soldier belligerence and live on.
The incident I remember was during Ramadan, when muslims fast from dawn till dusk, no food, no water. Hajj Khalil was trying to coax me and another volunteer into tasting the grape syrup his wife and daughters were making. When my colleague decided to taste it, he was too timid for Hajj Khalil’s liking; he snatched the bowl and saying, ‘this is how you taste it,’ tipped it back taking a deep slurp. His wife and daughters immediately erupted in squeals of protest, and Hajj K spit out the syrup, suddenly remembering it was Ramadan and he was fasting. His shock was genuine, and he hurried off to busy himself and cover his embaressment.
I later saw Hajj Khalil on the news: he’d been attacked, again, by young illegal Israeli settlers with bats and clubs. He and his wife were badly beaten.]