Sumud Personified: Palestinian man has defied Israeli forces for 20 years

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Despite the continuous harassment to him and his family by Israeli soldiers for more than 20 years, and despite the continuous demolition of his humble tin-roofed house near Israel’s separation wall, 60-year-old Ali Salim Mousa from the town of al-Khadr south of Bethlehem remains firm on his land.

Speaking to Ma’an on Sunday, Mousa said his house had been demolished by Israeli forces four times, and “the fifth demolition is on the way.”

His sons, who decided to build a similar houses in the same area, have started to face the same fate. Mousa lives in this house with 38 children and grandchildren.

Speaking about his humble house, Mousa says the walls are made of bricks and the roof is movable tin sheets. One-hundred meters away, he added, a viewer can see a “fancy” separation wall overlooking Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the mountains of the Jordan Valley.

A look at the simple house gives one the immediate impression that it would be impossible to live under such circumstances for a few days, but surprisingly Mousa has been living there for 28 years.

He told Ma’an that he built the first house in the mid-1980s and the Israeli forces demolished it immediately. Then he rebuilt the house and it was demolished three more times the last of which was in June along with three other houses for his sons.

Asked to describe his life during the past years, Mousa said it was of the most difficult experiences a human being can witness in his lifetime.

The Israeli occupation, he added, “has practiced the toughest kinds of harassment and threatening as well as temptations” to get him to leave the place. He said they offered him huge amounts of money but he refused.

“The conflict has been and will remain a conflict over land and survival.”

Among the types of harassment was a military post only 50 meters from Mousa’s house during the second Palestinian uprising. The military post, says Mousa, remained there for at least seven years, and it posed a life threat to everything that moves.

“Israeli border guard officers used to knock on our door every night and order us to stay in the open. They sought to break our firm will but we persevered and will persevere.”

Asked about possible financial or even moral support, Mousa confirmed that he hasn’t received any support from official Palestinian sides.

Official institutions refuse to give any support because the house is located in area “C” according to the Oslo Accords.

On the other hand, nongovernmental organizations and foreign organizations have been offering “interruptedly” some support to Mousa to help him rebuild his house every time the Israelis demolish it.

One of Mousa’s sons, Muhammad, 38, decided to build a house in another neighborhood of al-Khader known as Um Rukba, but unfortunately it is also in area “C” and the Israeli forces immediately delivered a stop-work order threatening to demolish the house if he continues to build it.

Despite all this harassment and dire living conditions, Mousa is determined to stay on his land to the degree that he said he would build graves in the area for him, his children and grandchildren and ask to be buried there.

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