Cave Dwellers of Palestine
Palestinian family living in a cave at Mufakara in the hills south a of Hebron in the West Bank.
The typical entrance to a cave dwelling compound is a stone doorway leading to a cave which extends about five metres (16ft) into the soft, clay-like rock. The light is dim and the air cool.
The caves are divided into three areas; one for livestock in winter, a living area and cooking area. Each family has at least one cave that it uses as a residence.
Most of the childbirths take place in the caves, under poor sanitary conditions, without licensed midwives, and without appropriate medical equipment.
A quarter of the children in the caves area do not attend school at all. They help with the house work and the grazing.
Hamamadi at prayer inside his cave house in Mufakara. The family sleep, pray and eat in the same area.
Cave dwellers have few belongings. Possessions are stored in alcoves carved into the rock. The caves are dark and blackened with the smoke of paraffin lamps.
Residents support themselves primarily from farming, raising sheep and goats, and the production of milk and cheese.
The cave dwellers live off of basic agriculture. Most of the produce is for home consumption.
There are no paved roads leading from nearby villages and the harsh topography of the area compels the residents to travel to and from the area by foot or donkey.