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At a hillside cafe in a small Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Ronel Barak and her family busily prepare food for dozens of army reservists called up in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.
Since Israel declared war on Gaza after the surprise Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people, Ms Barak and her family have been providing free meals of rice, schnitzels and other staples for the soldiers stationed in the area known as the South Hebron Hills.
“Our coping mechanism was to start to feed the soldiers for free,” Ms Barak said. “To help in whatever way we can.”
Ms Barak, 58, lives in Mitzpe Yair, a collection of homes overlooking Masafer Yatta, a group of tiny Palestinian hamlets scattered across the arid hills of South Hebron.
According to the Israeli non-profit organisation B’Tselem, which monitors Israeli settlement activity, about 4,000 Palestinians live in the 30 villages in Masafer Yatta.
Both communities are part of Area C, the tracts of West Bank land that make up the majority of the occupied territory. Area C is under full Israeli control, but under the 1993 Oslo Accords it was supposed to be gradually transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
For several reasons, that never happened and the Oslo Accords collapsed.
Israel remains in full control and the communities of the South Hebron Hills are now at the centre of a fight for land that strikes at the very core of the decades-long conflict.
Area C makes up more than 60 per cent of the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlers like Ms Barak refer to the area as Judea and Samaria and believe it is their right as Jews to live there.
“A fundamental part of being Jewish is living in Israel,” Ms Barak told media.
“And the question is, what do I see as Israel and what does the world see as Israel? For me this is Israel,” she said referring to the deeply contested land she lives on.