Fawwar, West Bank, Palestine

Fawwar is a Palestinian town near Hebron in the south of West Bank, Palestine. Established as a refugee camp in 1949, Fawwar became home to war refugees from the towns of Beersheba and Bayt Jibrin. Today Fawwar with it several thousand Palestinians is home to my sponsor family of Al Jaabari. 

Fawwar sits low in a wide valley. The one road in and out of Fawwar had been under Israeli occupation since the war in 1967. Armed Israeli soldiers guard the entry and exit of every person. 

Each Friday when we turned into the gate, my heart skipped a beat as I reached into my pocket to ensure that I carried my American passport. I never did learn to normalize the encounters with uniformed soldiers, young men and women with assault rifles strapped to their shoulders. The guns always pointed ominously at the vehicles of local residents.

Farouk’s family home was far inside the town, near the end of the one narrow street which everyone traveled to pass into Fawwar. In May, I rode to the town on a Tuesday. This was a departure from routine–the only time I visited that was not Holy Day. 

The extended family was gathering for a specific purpose. After an unusually light fare was served for lunch, we all set out. I joined the younger generation in a twenty-minute uphill hike toward the east. Once we walked a couple of blocks to the edge of town, we climbed a zigzag path up a steep hillside. As we reached the hilltop, two cars arrived with the senior members of the family. We gathered on an empty lot at the top of the ridge. 

This lot had been purchased by Fahim and Miriam Hamdan. It was the site for a future family home. When I reached the plateau, I turned and gazed across the wide valley. In that moment, I gasped. The view out across the open expanse of West Bank was breathtaking.

…to be continued

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