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Kammana dates from the early 1800s, when Bedouin first settled the area. The Sawaid tribe came from the region between the Upper Galilee and the Golan, also known as "Al Hula." The tribe found an uninhabited, high place atop a mountain, which they named Kammana, and established their community under the same name. The location also served as a strategic point to defend against attack - Kammana literally means "hidden" or "ambush." The tribe lived in tents and structures made out of aluminum, living off agriculture (such as wheat) and grazing (such as goats and cows.) The first stone houses were built in the early 1920s and 30's - five in East Kammana, and three each in Al-Jalassa and West Kammana

Before the late 1960's, there were no roads to Kammana aside from footpaths. No one owned cars, people walked or rode donkeys to travel from place to place. The government built a temporary school in Kammana out of military barracks, and it provided education from first through eighth grade to students from Kammana only. The teachers came from Arab Villages in the surrounding area.

In 1963 the Israeli government declared an area near Kammana (west of the Bedouin village of Salama in what is known as Area 9) as a military training zone. Stray bullets and mortars sometimes hit Kammana. Even worse, government officials closed the school claiming that a military zone was too dangerous a place for the school to be near, mentioning nothing of the village itself. Closing the school forced Kammana's children to walk 7km to Rama village or even further to Nahaf, depending on which school had enough space for the extra students. Now kindergarten-age children were expected to walk 14km round trip everyday through what the Israeli government declared a dangerous military zone. In the mid - 70's parents began to rent rooms for their older children in the villages where they attended school. Many students dropped out of school because of the commute or the conditions in the rooms. Some families moved so their children could attend school.

In the mid-1960s, Jewish officials were very fearful of the fact that the Galilee was demographically more Arab than Jewish. In 1965, the passage of the Planning and Construction Law created a state planning system, with planning boards from the local to the national level. The law also zoned all land in Israel as residential, industrial, or agricultural / nature reserve, forbidding unlicensed construction on agricultural land. The law was retroactive, which meant that zoning an area as agricultural immediately made all the buildings already there illegal. With a stroke of the pen, the land under Kammana was zoned agricultural, and the village itself became illegal, "unrecognized" by the government. By law, unrecognized villages cannot be connected to the nation's electricity or water grids, nor are they provided with educational or medical facilities. Further, since they are "illegal," the government reserves the right prosecute homeowners for building without a permit, and to demolish existing housing.

The same desire to make the Galilee more Jewish, which lead to villages like Kammana being declared illegal, also led the government to establish numerous new Jewish settlements in the region in the 1970s. These Mitzpim (literally "Observation Points") were built on land zoned agricultural (in Kammana's case, military), and then retroactively recognized by the government. The Mitzpim highlighted the discriminatory intention of the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, as legal Jewish settlements were built hundreds of meters away from illegal Arab ones -- for instance, two Jewish settlements, Kamon and Mikmanim, were established on Kammana mountain in 1980, built so close that they were within the borders Kammana Village. By that time, 30 new Jewish villages had sprung up amongst the existing Arab ones in the municipality of Kamon alone.

The Mitzpim also undermined the government's argument that the unrecognized Arab villages were too small, too remote to justify official recognition and the infrastructure improvements that went with it. The average size of the Mitzpim at their establishment was only 5-10 families, yet the government provided them with full services. It was thought that the establishment of Kamon and Michmanim would help Kammana, as the building of these two villages proved that the area was no longer too dangerous for human habitation. If both Kamon and Michmanim could receive services then there was no reason why Kammana had to be left without them, especially in light of the fact that the population of Kammana was (and still is) more the population of Kamon and Mikmanim combined. Yet the reality of the situation quickly became apparent. These new villages instantly gained basic services, whereas Kammmana still had none. Even though the main water pipe to the settlements passed right through Kammana, the village was deprived of running water.

The 1976 Koenig Report on Handling the Arabs of Israel well summed up decades of Israeli policy: "The nationalists feel -- as I do in regard to the Arab population --that the Arab's increase in the Galilee will endanger our control of that areaSuggestions: Expand and deepen Jewish settlement in areas where the continuity of the Arab population is prominent, and where they number considerably more than the Jewish population; examine the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations"(HRA Factsheet #2)

The 1986 Markowitz Commission on Illegal Construction marked a new chapter in the Galilee, by translating the existing law into concrete action. While legalizing previous unlicensed construction in numerous recognized Arab towns and villages, the Commission also decided to take concrete action against the unrecognized villages: "In order to end the illegal construction from now on it is necessary to instruct all central and local government agents to act swiftly and decisively to stop such construction while in progress, by immediate demolition."(p.4) Further, those houses spared immediate demolition were declared "grey" housing, which could be neither repaired nor changed. Eventually, the houses deteriorate to such a condition that the government declares them unsafe for habitation and then demolishes them. In the unrecognized villages, even standard household repairs became illegal.

By the 1990s, a combination of public pressure, along with an eye towards wooing Arab votes, had led successive Israeli governments to recognize the largest of the unrecognized villages. Kammana itself was recognized in 1995. Yet recognition is not a simple process. Until a plan for the locality is accepted by a number of different bodies, culminating in the Regional Planning Authority, "illegal" buildings can still be demolished, and no public infrastructure can be built. This is the problem Kammana faces today.

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