38. Winter falafel
Nahhalin, West Bank - Palestine
Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag paper
42 x 30 cm
5/5 edition (+ AP)
Nahhalin is a town just South West of Bethlehem and West of the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. It is all but surrounded by settlements with houses of Betar Illit only a hundred metres away (see map links below). In early 2016, the Israeli military blockaded the town after a settler was attacked in Gush Etzion. The attacker was seen fleeing roughly in the direction of Nahhalin. For nearly two weeks, access to and from Nahhalin was restricted to nearly all people and goods amounting to a form of collective punishment.
In late 2015, local officials told me of an occasion when an Israeli military jeep driving down a main street of Nahhalin on a Friday (the busiest day of the week). The soldiers in the jeep casually drove and without stopping dropped tear gas and stun grenades near groups of locals on the street without any provocation, seemingly just for fun. Officials also spoke of shortages of gas for cooking and heating during the winter. This was experienced across the West Bank during the winter of 2015/16 but felt acutely in Nahhalin.
The settlements (and their security measures) of Gush Etzion bloc have an oppressive effect on local Palestinian communities. One Sheikh from a community on the edge of the Etzion forest, told me that his pregnant wife went into labour and was being transported to Bethlehem. The ambulance was stopped at a checkpoint near Gush Etzion and not permitted to pass. She had a miscarriage. He also spoke of his severely physically disabled son. Each week he needed to transported to Bethlehem for physiotherapy. However, the route was restricted by an earth roadblock. The family would have to carry the boy and his wheelchair over the roadblock to a vehicle on the other side. Eventually, the physiotherapist told the family that the stress of the journey, both ways, undid the work of the treatment - so it was best to remain at home. The Sheikh's son has since passed away from complications.