15/09/07

At Jamal’s, we rose later and ate more perfunctorily. Actually, Sanaa got up at 3 am, to bake fresh taboon bread and prepare things, then spent 15 or so minutes waking Jamal and us.

Breakfast was fresh taboon, left-over tomato and potatoes, and different home-made grape jams drizzled in olive oil.

Back to sleep, startling at every sound—Jamal’s tent is closer to the settlement and to potential trouble-makers.

One small feat for resilient Jamal: he is grazing his sheep on the side of the hill, his hill, from which he is usually banned and chased away. The soldiers are asleep. He’s been doing this for a while, taking advantage of their sleeping habits, then grazing sheep lower in the valley when the soldiers awaken.

grazing-sheep.jpg **[sheep grazing in Susiya]

At Hajj Khalil’s, his daughters and grand-daughters are cleaning a mass of freshly harvested grapes. From the pile heaped on a plastic sheet, they are transferred from one bucket to the next in a process of: removing bad grapes, removing stems, washing, draining, hand-pulping, and finally foot-pulping in a large vat before the pot of pulp is placed over a fire and left for half a day. Later, it will become a seeded grape jam or a watery jelly, both very sweet.

They offer us grapes, tea, and bread, but we decline, it is still Ramadan. M decides to taste the grape syrup, as he is not really fasting and is curious about this delicacy (I’d already tasted it on previous visits). He dips his finger in it while the ladies urge him to tip the bowl and drink. Hajj Khalil comes along and shows M how to do it, raising the dish high and taking a large slurp. A chaos of admonitions erupts and Hajj realizes what he has done, leaning over and spitting out the syrup as the rest of us laugh and laugh at his absent-minded lapse. I’m sure he is forgiven, his breach being more out of force of habit and accommodating guests than intentionally seeking out food.

Hajj returns to transferring water from his cistern to a tanker, via a rented-pump and long hose. The hose runs from the cistern and, supported by a ladder, across the forcibly-abandoned cave next to Hajj’s tent. There is a small leak in the hose and water sprays out and down into the cave. Ever aware of limited water, Hajj spends a few minutes balancing a bucket on a large tractor tire more or less below the leak, catching much of the spilled water, to re-use.

khalil-cave2.jpg

Watching a P.A.R.C. documentary [The Iron Wall] which sources the Israeli group Peace Now, I later hear:

The average consumption, per capita, in the West Bank, is 142 cubic meters per capita per year, while the average consumption for settlers is about 600 cubic meters per capita per year. Palestinians pay about 4 times more than Israelis for water in the West Bank, while we’re using the same resources and the same infrastructure. In other words, we consume 5 times less but we pay 4 times more.[Dr. Abed al -Rahman Tamimi, Palestinian Hydrology Group]