Haris, Kifl Harith, Tue 6.8.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
09:15 We left from the Rosh Ha’ayin train station.
09:45 Kifl Harith
A conversation with the Imam. He paints a bleak picture of the situation; the continuing pressure of the occupation has its effects. The village is very poor. The biggest problem caused by the occupation is that people are prevented from earning an honest living. Many of the village’s inhabitants have been blacklisted. Only a few, those who are “kosher,” work in the settlements or go through the daily Via Dolorsa of the Qalqiliya checkpoint on their way to work in Israel and on their way home. People are tired, they give up, they want only quiet. They live from day to day. Demolition orders hanging over them increase bitter feelings and uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow. Uprisings of various kinds against the occupation have stopped. There aren’t even any more incidents of youths throwing stones. Nevertheless, last month soldiers came to arrest a number of youths. There’s been no contact with them yet.
The village is divided: the boundary between Area B and Area C runs through the village. Water is provided by Mekorot, which charges NIS 6/cubic meter. “We Arabs use less water than you Israelis,” explains the Imam with a smile. Why must such a poor population pay so much for the most basic necessity? The god of the occupation knows the answer.
We meet the assistant to the head of the local council in the municipal building (who just received a scholarship to Al-Najah University and will join many young people from the village studying there), and later meet Mortada, an impressive young man who speaks fluent Hebrew and helps us organize the day at the beach for women from the village.
According to the latest information for 2013 the village had 3112 inhabitants and 800 households. 78.5% of village land is in Area B; 21.5%, most of it on the southern margins of the village, is Area C. Eighty village houses are in Area C. Last year we witnessed the demolition of two buildings and were told at the time that 17 buildings had received demolition orders. Meanwhile, their number has grown to 30.
80-85% of the land belonging to the village has been expropriated. Some was taken by the settlements of Revava, Barkan and Ariel. Public buildings were built on some of the land; the law allows land to be taken for such purposes without payment of compensation. In fact, “the Jewish brain thinks up gimmicks.” Some land was “sold” deceitfully – sales contracts were signed by little children – or as a result of threats.
In Haris as well the main problem is increasing impoverishment because people “blacklisted” are unable to make a living. The mayor’s assistant, for example, was blacklisted even though he and his family were never involved in “hostile” activity. The mayor’s six sons, aged 20-35, are also blacklisted.
Additional reasons for the difficult economic situation: harassment by settlers. For example: last month a settler from Tekoa sent his 200 goats to an olive grove belonging to one of the villagers. And: the experience of recent years has been that people don’t receive permits to harvest olives on lands near Ariel. Too few hours are allocated to the harvest.
The impoverishment of the Palestinian population is one more bonus to the occupation regime: people to whom injustice has been done refrain from going to court because they can’t afford the expense.
When we’ve attempted, in previous meetings with people in different villages, as well as today, to broach the topic of the peace talks, we see an additional common denominator. People are skeptical, mistrustful of leaders on all sides, have lost all hope for a better future. Being robbed of hope may be the greatest injustice caused by the ongoing occupation.