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Palestinians face conflict in cave dwelling

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:53s - Published
Palestinians face conflict in cave dwelling

Palestinians face conflict in cave dwelling

Palestinian families living in hillside caves in the West Bank complain of difficult living conditions at the hands of Jewish settlers and Israeli regulations.

They say it's a choice of a cave or a refugee camp.

Emily Wither reports.

For the Hamamdeh family this is home: deep inside a cave on a hill in the West Bank.

The Palestinian family is leading a life not too different than their forefathers who first settled in the caves more than a century ago.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 67-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, RABAA' HAMAMDEH, SAYING: "We don't have another option.

This is our land.

We have lived here since we were born.

Our fathers and grandfathers lived here.

Our mothers gave birth here, and so did I." Without electricity or running water the people living in these caves still rely on water collected from nearby wells and burn wood to keep warm.

But there are politics above ground meaning modernizing is out of the question.

The caves are in Area C, which under the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords is fully controlled by Israel.

The tough conditions for the Hamamdehs and other families living in dozens of caves in the area are aggravated by Israeli restrictions on construction.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 75-YEAR-OLD MAN, HUSSEIN HAMAMDEH, SAYING: "We suffer because of the settlers.

When we want to put a cover outside the cave to protect ourselves from the water, they demolish it.

When we put a tent, they take it.

The settlers come with the army and take the tent." The cave-dwellers say rooms built above the ground are demolished -- electricity lines once extended to the area brought down.

The civil administration that controls the area says people living here can lawfully apply for building permits, but rights groups say Israeli authorities reject most requests of construction.

Despite all this the families won't leave.

They say it's a choice between keeping their lands or becoming yet another refugee.




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