Amid the barren hills of the Jordan Valley, Palestinian artist Khadeeja Bisharat paints scenes of bulldozers and demolitions, a reflection of fears of what may happen to her isolated Bedouin community if Israel, annexed land in the occupied West Bank.
About 15,000 Palestinians live in tiny pastoral encampments scattered across the Jordan Valley. Israel has pledged to extend its sovereignty over the territory - some 30% of the West Bank - with cabinet-level discussion on the move set to begin July 1.
Khadeeja Bisharat, a Palestinian artist, draws in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Image credit Reuters, Raneen Sawafta
“This affects our psychological wellbeing and the children’s wellbeing ... Will they allow residents to stay? Will they demolish our houses?” Bisharat, 37, said from her Bedouin encampment in the northern Jordan Valley.
She explains she has tried to express her fears and worries through paintings, among them a watercolour depicting women gathered around a demolished home and a scene of a yellow bulldozer approaching a tin Bedouin shack.
“I try to convey a message of how the occupation has such an impact on us, and the violations we are subjected to as well,” the mother-of-three said.
Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war. An Israeli military post, near the Jewish settlement of Hamra, looks down on Bisharat’s community from a nearby hilltop.
Khadeeja Bisharat, a Palestinian artist, displays a conflict-inspired artwork she painted, in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Image credit Reuters
She explained she felt surrounded, far from areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and exposed to Israeli demolition of farm shacks erected by her community.
Israel has cited a lack of proper permits, required in parts of the West Bank under complete Israeli military control, in issuing demolition orders.
Peace Now, an Israeli advocacy group that opposes Israel’s settlement policy, says most Palestinian applications for building permission keep being rejected.
Bisharat’s husband, Mahmoud, said their community would be defiant in the face of Israeli annexation.
“Even if they force us, we will try to resist with all the resources we have.”
Khadeeja Bisharat, a Palestinian artist, stands with her daughter Remas in Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Image credit Yahoo News