Qalqiliya, Mon 17.1.11, Morning
Conversations with residents of Nebi Elias.
Last week we met with the head of the village of Nebi Elias, located on Route 55 near Qalqilya, regarding land stolen from residents to establish the settlements of Zufim and Alfey Menasahe. On Monday we met residents in the municipality offices and heard about their problems.
The two most serious problems mentioned in all our discussions:
- The difficulty accessing lands on the other side of the fence.
- The prohibition on construction in Area C, which is strangling the village.
We go up to the room of the municipality building and from there see the buildings of Alfei Menashe and the adjoining fence surrounding the settlement. Below it lies a large, steep area full of olive trees (hundreds of dunams, according to the villagers). The area begins near Gate 109, far from the village, and continues alongside and below Alfei Menashe. The security fence is visible below that area, cutting through the olive groves next to Alfei Menashe and the few groves remaining near the village.
We see the “borders” of the village from the roof, and how the “Area C regulations” are strangling it. For example, a goat- and sheepfold that had been erected in the past at the outskirts of the village is today surrounded by multi-story homes built because construction is prohibited in Area C.
They’re not allowed to put the pen outside the village, even as a shed roofed with plastic sheets.
We spoke with Abu Shadi, the owner of a building supply and hardware store in the center of the village.
He and his two brothers own 300 dunams on the other side of the fence running between Nebi Elias and Alfey Mensashe. Their land is very near the village, but very far from the Eliyahu crossing (Gate 109), the only one for which permits are available. The problem isn’t obtaining a permit, but the time it takes him to reach his land and the difficult terrain he must cross. He and his wife have even obtained permits valid for two years, but it takes more than two hours to reach his land from Gate 109, across a steep landscape without a road or path, one that not even a donkey and cart can traverse.
The entire area is planted with olives.
His brothers, who are younger than he (aged 60 and 50) receive permits valid for a shorter time, and they don’t always renew them because it isn’t worth doing so.
They can’t get permits for laborers to work the land and help with the harvest.
During this year’s harvest season he and his wife went only once to their land and picked only 50-60 kg. which they carried all the way on foot.
We had a conversation with Abed, a municipal worker, who was also our translator.
His brother owns six dunams closer to Gate 109, but its also very hard for him to reach his land. He’s granted a permit only during the harvest.
The family had land on the side where Zufim was established, and even though the route of the fence was changed in that area, some land remained beyond on the other side and they don’t receive permits to access it.
Ra’ad is an officer in the Palestinian Authority, so he and his brother are prevented by the GSS from entering Israel. In the past they received permits, but not this year. Only their parents, who are more than 70, received permits during the harvest. Their grove also adjoins Alfei Menashe; it is difficult for them to reach it because there’s no road.
Latifa: She and her husband own 20 dunams of olive trees near Alfei Menashe.
Only her husband has a permit to access their land. She had one but didn’t renew it because it was too hard for her to reach the land. Her 20-year-old son had one which he lost. He didn’t renew it.
They have to pay to get to Gate 109, and then its hard to climb over the rocks and thistles. In the past they produced half a ton of oil, but now only about 90 kg. because they’re unable to take care of the trees. Her husband went to the grove only once.
It takes him an hour to reach his land on foot from the checkpoint. He’s one of the few with an annual permit to bring a vehicle through the checkpoint and drive to the area where the trees begin. He owns six dunams of olive trees, as does his brother. His brother didn’t receive a permit for his pickup truck. Another brother is not allowed to access the land. They don’t know why…Rad’uan has two wives. Only one has a permit to access the land…
The Bedouin who live next to the olive groves, and supposedly are located in Israel, are allowed to access the land. Rad’uan’s brother, the one not allowed access, hired Bedouin who received 2/3 of the harvest in payment, and he was left with only 1/3, which really makes the landowners angry.
We can sum up with the words of Jalal, the head of the village, who told us: You put olive oil in salad, and enjoy it, but the olives are part of our lives…
מהמחסום לאדמה שעה ברגל. הוא בין הבודדים שיש להם אישור שנתי לעבור ברכב את המחסום ולהגיע במכונית עד לשטח שבו מתחילים העצים.יש לו 6 דונם זיתים וגם לאחיו יש 6 דונם. אחיו לא קיבל אשור מעבר לטנדר שלו. אח אחר מנוע להגיע לשטח. לא יודעים למה...לרדואן שתי נשים. לאחת יש אישור לעבור לשטח לשניה אין...
לבדואים שנמצאים בשכנות לשטחי הזיתים ונמצאים כביכול בתוך ישראל מותר להגיע לשטחים .
אח מנוע של רדואן העסיק בדואים שקיבלו 2/3 מהזיתים ולאח נותר 1/3 דבר החורה מאד לבעלי הקרקעות.
לסיכום,אפשר לצטט את דבריו של ג'אלל ראש הכפר אשר אמר לנו: אתם שמים שמן זית בסלט וזה טוב אך לנו הזיתים הם חלק מהחיים שלנו.......