2016 ,שטח Area C
I set out to observe the place and heard the cry of silence and the thundering sound of this harsh land.
Late in the summer of 2013 I decided to familiarize myself with the everyday reality of Area C, the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria (depending on the speaker's political inclination). I decided to embark on a photographic journey in Hebron and the southern Mount Hebron area, Mt. Ebal, Mt. Gerizim and Nablus, in Binyamin and in Samaria all the way to Sebastia, in the Jordan Valley and in the north Jerusalem enclaves—villages and sites of varying accessibility, even the most easily reachable among them undermine one's sense of personal security. I harnessed my curiosity and open-mindedness, and let the lens capture existence from a personal-emotional vantage point which is not politically fixed, so that the photographic act may introduce the place—which is all so near and yet so far from the eye in everyday life—to those for whom this reality is hidden.
The journey was intricate and multifaceted. On the one hand, I came across scenes of harsh local reality which leaves no foreseeable hope; on the other hand, I photographed the surrounding open space and the breathtaking, inspiring primeval landscape. I met Palestinians and Jews, and was exposed to the high tension between them, but also to sparks of light on either side of the conflict, in the form of groups that try to draw nearer and bridge the gap.
I met Palestinians and became aware of the restrictions burdening their lives; on the one hand, rules and regulations inflicted by the Israeli authorities: restricted access to water resources and low water allocation in comparison to the amount allotted to the Jewish settlements; IDF firing ranges which inhibit free movement to cultivate their land and shepherd their flocks; restricted movement on certain roads; and, of course, the trials and tribulations involved in crossing the checkpoints to Israel. On the other hand, some Palestinians confided that their problems with the Israeli authorities are nothing compared to the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, such as freezing money received from international organizations to implement projects and initiatives vital to the local population.
I met Jews—moderate ones, who support peace and coexistence with their Arab neighbors, as well as extremists and separatists. They share a view of the land as the land of Genesis, the scene of our life as a people before the exile, the place of the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Tomb of Rachel, the Tomb of Joseph, Shiloh, Beit El, Herodion, and many more. And there are those who simply returned home to the Gush Etzion settlements, which were conquered by the Jordanians in the War of Independence. Whether moderate or radical—they are collectively regarded, by some of the country's citizens, as residents of illegal settlements in occupied territories, a bone in the throat of the peace process.
I experienced a personal encounter in the figure of children in Southern Mount Hebron who played with (real?) firearms, a situation which attested, more than anything, to a dismal and discouraging state of affairs. What future lies ahead? (The question was asked in August 2013, and the answer was given in late 2015, when hate-filled Palestinian youth went on a stabbing spree in the streets of Israel).
I documented people and a reality of life, and I documented the land and sky. The human situation bespeaks a conflictual existence, and the present is present continuous, whose transience is, regretfully, an incomprehensible privilege. The scenic picture perpetuates the fleeting moment within the imprint of time, and the tendency toward the historical in the photographs of this landscape does not stem from a forward gaze, but rather from an affinity with the age-old past.
Area C is the largest contiguous area under full Israeli control within Judea and Samaria. Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank, is the area on the western side of the Jordan River, which was a part of Mandatory Palestine and was occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1948, following the offensive of the Arab states, and was conquered therefrom by the State of Israel in the Six-Day War (1967). In the Oslo Accords the territory was divided into three categories: Area C thus joins Area A—noncontiguous enclaves supposedly under full Palestinian Authority control, and Area B— noncontiguous enclaves under Palestinian Authority civil control and Israeli military control.