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Palestine/Israel: Political Ecology of the Kabarra Wetlands

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

The people of Jisr al-Zarqa live on the shores of the Mediterranean, on land that is today called Israel-Palestine. The ancestors of their community were Bedouins known as Arab al-Ghawarneh. Before the Zionist state was established, in the time between nations and empires that sought to intensively cultivate the land, and when entropy of the landscape was at its highest, the land was a swamp. Al-Ghawanreh lived on the outskirts of this swamp known as the Kabarra wetlands, herding water buffalo, growing a few cereal crops, and weaving with the fibres of samar and papyrus along the springs. With the rise of the Zionist state and the expulsion of Palestinian people from their home, the wetland was drained. Al-Ghawarneh managed to remain near their ancestral lands, but they did not entirely escape the Nakba (Arabic for “the Great Catastrophe,” expulsion from Palestine); their dispossession was of their identity and livelihood.

Nona Golan (They/Them) was born with the help of the modern healthcare system in Israel, and lived in Jisr al-Zarqa during the first 5 months of COVID-19 in Israel/Palestine. They arrived in Jisr to study healthcare accessibility during the pandemic, and further studied the history and present of the people and land under occupation. For their senior thesis, Nona is writing about the Kabarra wetland from the Ottoman Era to the present through an ethnographic and legal-geographic historical lens, the interjection of the Zionist state, and to understand how the present leads into ongoing and new modes of dispossession and steadfastness in the town of Jisr al-Zarqa.

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