Nabi Ilyas, Deir Istiya
Translator: Charles K.
I went to the West Bank for two purposes:
To film for a future movie the women in Nabi Elias working on handicrafts.
To interview and film the village heads of Nabi Elias and Deir Istiya regarding the “Tag Mehir” attacks on them after the incident in Qusra.
I interviewed and filmed both village heads. Since I anticipate (at this point) it will take a long time to edit the films, here’s the report:
Nabi Elias (according to A., a council member):
At 04:30 on the morning of 7.1.14, settlers arrived in a bus, wanting to enter the mosque to pray. The residents objected and the settlers were forced to leave.
At 21:30 on 9.1.14, fourteen settlers came, and the same thing occurred.
At 22:30 on 11.1.14, 21 settlers came, and the same thing occurred.
At 11:30 on 13.1.14, 25 settlers came, and the same thing occurred. The incidents are accelerating.
After the last incident the villagers complained to the Palestinian DCO, which complained to the Israeli DCO.
The villagers believe the intruders weren’t settlers, but residents of Bnai Braq. There’s no proof of that.
The villagers are worried because of what happened elsewhere: from time to time settlers come to pray, and gradually take over.
The head of the village says the village has been quiet for years - also during the intifada - with no disorder or violence. Recently the settlers have been causing problems that didn’t exist before. The villagers believe it’s a provocation and/or an attempt to take over.
Deir Istiya (according to M., a resident)
Last night (14.1.14) soldiers entered the village, fired tear gas and stun grenades and declared a curfew. People went home, went to sleep. They’re used to the army coming at night to frighten them.
But this time, after firing the grenades, the soldiers left the village and didn’t return. The military vehicle that’s stationed permanently at the village entrance also left. Then, at 03:00, settlers came to the mosque near the main road and set a fire at its entrance. The beadle, who’d arrive at the mosque before the worshippers, found graffiti announcing revenge for what happened at Qusra, and flames at the entrance. He immediately extinguished the fire.
The residents are certain the army cooperated with the hooligans.
According to M., they weren’t expecting settlers to come (unlike at Qusra), so they hadn’t organized to repel them. It’s clear to the Palestinians that the army knows exactly who the hooligans are – for two reasons: first, the army photographs every movement of Palestinians; they know immediately who did what, and when. That’s not the case with settlers.
The second: one of the hooligans lost his iPhone; the villagers handed it over to the army so they could locate him. But that didn’t happen, of course. “We don’t know who are the settlers harassing us, but the army knows and does nothing!”
Later I interviewed the head of the village at length about the situation in general. Here’s the gist:
He and his colleagues fear Kerry is pressuring Abu Mazen to accept “goodies,” money and promises, but won’t return their lands. And the Palestinians are pressuring Abu Mazen not to give in. They’re willing to forgo all the promises to improve their lives, but they won’t give up their lands.
At the mosque I ran into Karin and Shoshi, two of my colleagues, who were there as part of their shift. I didn’t know. I was sent there because I was going to Nabi Elias. I assume they’ll also submit a report.