9 June 2005
AT-TUWANI: The little one and the loss
by Kristin Anderson
With one hand cupping the little goat's neck, Hafez's other hand stroked
down the nose of Kristin -- the week's newest baby goat and my namesake.
Together Hafez and I took silent notice of the flat nose and white eyes, two
characteristics that determine market value of goats from At-Tuwani. Hafez
commented on his gratitude for this newborn of the highest quality, while
both he and I considered what has been gained, and what has been lost.
A few days after the birth of Kristin, one of Hafez's most valuable goats
died. The loss of this goat, an adult male valued at 950JD (approx. $1,340)
is a huge blow to Hafez's family. Hafez took the goat to a local
veterinarian who unofficially confirmed that the cause of death was linked
to ingested poison deposited by Israeli settlers in At-Tuwani grazing land
over two months ago. Hafez took news of the loss quietly back to his
village, knowing that while his family would carry the burden of the death,
burial, and loss of another goat, those guilty of poisoning and killing his
and other area animals are not held accountable for their criminal actions.
And so, the losses continue, while both local and international media and
respective governmental entities that have jurisdiction in this Israeli
military controlled section of Palestine lose interest in the land, water,
flocks, and people of the At-Tuwani region.
The land, water, flocks, and people remain in a state of hardship and
uncertainty. To this day, the Israeli authorities have failed to remove all
poison from the land. Animals, both adults and newborns, continue to die at
alarming rates. Shepherds have not received compensation for lost animals.
The Israeli government has not provided written reports of poison analyses
done on the water and products of potentially infected animals. Families
still lack milk to drink. Pregnant women do not know if the poison has
affected their unborn children. Shepherds are unable to sell lambs, milk,
or cheese in near-by markets because consumers do not want to purchase
poisoned animals or animal byproducts. The residents are asking, both
rhetorically and broadly, how they will survive in the coming months and
into the next year.
>From the pen where Hafez and I stood with newborn Kristin, our hands failed
to hold the number of losses. Even as two bright-eyes and four awkward legs
beckoned us to consider the grace of provision, our wearied bodies stood
charged with outrage and the uncertainty of what survival would mean for a
place and people plagued with loss.
Just three days later, Kristin fell ill and died.