Sanniriya, Tue 30.7.13, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
We drove to Sanniriya through Azzun and Thulth. To reach the new, attractive municipal building on the hilltop it’s better to turn right from the main road before reaching the T-junction leading left to Bidiya.
Our appointment with the people from the municipality was at 12:00. A, the municipal accountant, awaited us; he speaks some English and apologized that the head of the municipality would be half an hour late. We talked about Sanniriya’s problems while a pleasant breeze cooled the office of the head of the municipality, with its stately furniture.
12:30 N., the head of the municipality, arrives, accompanied by S., the treasurer. A. joined us later; he translated and had more to say.
Sanniriya’s lands stretch west to Kafr Qassem (Oranit is built on their land) and south to the wadi that divides them from Mis’ha. Beit Amin and Azzun Atma were founded by people from Sanniriya. Some of the residents also have lands in Ariel. To reach them they have to go through the Ariel checkpoint and be inspected; the army escorts them to their land, the procedure is a lengthy one, and some people give up. Some residents who married into families in Israel have land registered in their names in Jaljulya and in Petah Tiqwa.
60% of the village lands are on the other side of the separation fence. They reach them via the Azzun Atma checkpoint, but as is true elsewhere, half of those requesting permits are turned down. Some have a “problematic past from a security standpoint” from more than 20 years ago. Often only parents older than 60 receive permits. S’s four brothers aren’t allowed through the checkpoint. Some of the land is flat, appropriate for fruit trees and vegetables. They also have greenhouses west of the village, some on this side of the fence, some on the other. To reach them they must go through Beit Amin and the northern Azzun Atma checkpoint. That checkpoint no longer operates but from time to time the army closes it and prevents them from reaching their land.
N. is convinced that if they had a state within the 1967 borders they’d live like kings. A. predicts that in 2022 there will be one large state here.
In addition to the need for permits for all members of the family, the village has two big problems: water and sewage.
Water: A main water line comes from Mas’ha, passing by Etz Efraim. It’s frequently sabotaged. Until they discover and repair the sabotage, much water goes to waste, greatly increasing their water bills. They contacted the authorities a few times but they don’t succeed in preventing the sabotage.
Sewage: Land was expropriated from them to lay a sewer pipe for the Etz Efraim and Elkana councils, but its outlet is open and the sewage pollutes the entire wadi and the olive trees planted alongside. They have complained about it many times as well, but nothing has been done to eliminate the nuisance.
We began our tour on the building’s roof. The lovely village flows down the opposite hill in all directions. Only 740 dunums are in Area B; the rest are in Area C where the Civil Administration doesn’t permit construction. Having no choice, they build on their lands even if Israel hasn’t included them in the limited Area B. Why should 4000 residents have to be satisfied with 740 dunums for construction, while settlements with many fewer inhabitants receive huge areas for future development and for “natural increase.” Don’t we also have natural increase?, they ask.
The view is glorious. You can see Petah Tiqwa and, on clear days, the sea. The settlements of Etz Efraim and Elkana are nearby; their new construction has already reached the fence.
We drove to see sewage flowing freely and creating a small, stinking pond. Part of it blocks access to the olive groves.
We then drove back through the village to the road that has always connected Sanniriya to Mas’ha on the hill to the south, until it was cut 5-6 years ago by the separation fence which creates an enclave that’s an obstacle separating the villages and forcing the residents to make a long detour via Bidiya farther to the east in order to travel from one to the other.
We parted from our hosts, driving to Bidiya and Highway 5 via the Shomron gate.