British Council delegation visits South Hebron Hills
3rd May 2019
In the beginning of May, the Director of the British Council office in Jerusalem, Martin Daltry, along with Jessie Chang Qumsiyeh from the Palestinian Natural Museum, visited South Hebron Hills to learn more about the On Our Land project and its work protecting cultural heritage in the area. Accompanied by On Our Land team members Rula Hamden and Mahmoud Soliman, they visited the villages of Al Twani, Rakeez, Jinba and Maghayar il Abeed, and saw first-hand the training for youth as they attended an oral history training workshop led by Mahasen Rabus. As Daltry reflected:
“I really enjoyed the visit and it was obviously very educational for me – not only in terms of the project but in understanding the very complex and difficult context for the Bedouin and all Palestinians in Area C.“
The tour enabled the visitors to learn about the life of the people in South Hebron Hills, their hopes for decent housing, even if it’s within the caves, and witness challenges to intervention by international agencies. For example, in Maghayar il Abeed they saw how a tent delivered by international actors had proved of limited use to the community as it was too hot for both people and animals. The visitors were offered local cheese and yogurt made by the community in Jinba, and learned about the area’s history. The visitors had the chance to talk with the youth researchers and learn about their lives in South Hebron Hills and their experiences within the project.
Advocacy and Education consultant Rula Hamden stressed the importance of such visits:
“From my point of view, it’s very important to expose the lifestyle and the life conditions of the communities of South Hebron Hills to as many as possible local and international actors. Such visits, especially those of duty bearers, decrease to some extent the sense of marginalization of those communities, who face major human rights violations that restrict and limit their ability to practice their cultural daily vital practices which includes herding, diary productions and farming.”
Advocacy and education is one of the core elements of the On Our Land project. Visits such as this help to raise the profile of communities in South Hebron Hills and their rich cultural heritage, bolstering the youth researchers’ efforts to protect it for future generations.