Thanks to their sumud (steadfast perseverance), Yasuf villagers live under and endure, as we are told, severe restrictions. To reach a bus stop (for their use only) at Tapuach Junction, they must walk along a dirt path, also for their use only, or risk being immediately shot.
Since 2000, 2/3 of their agricultural lands have been confiscated. Work on the remaining 1/3 is restricted in different ways, according to the land’s distance from Rehelim settlement. In some lands they need a permit which restricts their farming time to 4 specific days a year at specific times when the gate is open. In others, only on Saturdays and under military escort. This is to prevent further settler violence, such as occurred two weeks ago when some settlers uprooted 25 olive trees and 8 fig trees. The impoverished farmers have also lost their basic rights to work their own land as much and when they want.
Their water allotment, as well as that of neighbouring Iskaka village, we are told, is very insufficient. No water can be spared for agriculture.
YASUF. The official we have met several times and who remembers us, specially Aliyah, received us well. But there were many phone calls and other interruptions.
REQUEST for our help. A villager, sick with cancer, needs a permit to continue his medical treatment. We gave this man the phone number of Hamoked, suggested he call them, and contact Hanna if after a month his problem hasn’t yet been solved.
EMPLOYMENT. Olive groves; work in Israel (300-400 people).
LAND EXPROPRIATION. By the year 2000, 2/3 of their lands had been confiscated. Now they have only 1/3 left of their original possessions.
SETTLERS’ HARASSMENT. All village lands are in Area C and all suffer from a serious water shortage. Furthermore, the official tells us, accessibility to them is restricted in different ways. The Army, he adds, imposed these restrictions gradually. The lands fall into 3 groups depending on their distance from the Rehelim settlement and on the resulting settler violence.
(1) Lands near the village, far from the settlement. No problems, farmers can work them freely. However, they can’t water them, our host explains, due to a serious water shortage.
(2) Olive groves on the other side of the seam line fence can only be worked 4 days a year. The Army allots each owner a permit to work his land, but only twice a year: 2 days to cultivate it; 2 days to harvest the olives. On those days the agricultural gate is open from 8 am to 2-3 pm. This is obviously insufficient, but the Army says it can’t give them additional days, as we are told, because there aren’t enough soldiers to man the gate.
(3) Finally, lands which farmers are now only allowed to cultivate under military protection on Saturdays. These lands were bought from A-Sawiyya village, and are near Rehelim settlement. Two weeks ago, in these lands, as we are told, some settlers uprooted 25 olive trees and 8 fig trees. They have not been punished, nor even asked to pay the Palestinian owners compensation for the loss of the valuable trees. Instead, by imposing Saturdays as the only day on which farmers are now allowed to work their own lands, the Army has disrupted the work routine of those whose property and source of income these settlers assaulted and damaged. Settlers won’t come out on Saturdays, the Army assures them as we are told, so as not to violate the holiness of the day.
For Palestinian farmers, already impoverished and traumatized, this might well seem a double punishment. For now access to their own lands has been severely restricted; and they have also lost their basic right to work their own lands as much and when they choose.
WATER. The official tells us about the insufficient water supply. Each home has a water tank on the roof and the municipality has a big one for collective use which Mekorot fills up. Mekorot then charges Yasuf 15,000 NIS @ month, and neighbouring Iskaka 7,500 NIS.
Mekorot, he goes on, allots 4,000 mc of water @ month to Yasuf’s 2,000 people; and 2,000 mc to its neighbouring village Iskaka’s 1,000 people. The two villages agreed to divide the total amount of water according to the number of residents. Every day each village has running water during pre-set specific hours: while Iskaka has running water for 8 hours from 9am-5pm, Yasuf has water for 16 hours from 5pm to 9am.
Even though no water is used for farming, Mekorot’s water allocation is insufficient for these villagers’ basic needs. As the June 2015 WHO Report reminds us, “in 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use” (retrieved).
The Associaton for Civil Rights in Israel, whom Hanna later contacted about this serious infringement of basic human rights, promised to take care of this; they requested further information—the names of other villages suffering from water shortages—so as to obtain a complete picture of the regional situation. The official we met agreed to collect and provide this information within a week.
ELECTRICITY. The village council is careful to pay the Electricity bills on time and so avoid fines. Some time ago, it informed the Electricity Co. that they had failed to send them their monthly bill for some three months—even though the council had reminded them every month. When the bill finally arrived, our host was pleased to tell us, the village was not fined.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS. Travel is restricted, our host explains, in two ways. First because of road repairs, drivers— Israelis and Palestinians alike—can now only use one of the former two lanes of the busy Tapuach Junction. This slows down traffic. The second restriction, imposed some months ago for security reasons, surely affects Palestinian pedestrians’ pride. No longer allowed to walk along this Junction road to reach a bus stop (built for their use only), they must walk on a specially built dirt path. Any Palestinian caught walking along this forbidden Tapuach road might now be shot on sight.