Tour of the Villages
We left from the train station at Rosh HaAyin at 09:00.
09:30 – Haris
The entrance to the village, which had been blocked yesterday, was now open. A lot of children are running in the street, since they are on vacation from school. Nadim drove along a narrow road that was paved five years ago to bypass the checkpoints. We are now driving along it to reach the village of Dir Istya, since the entrance to it has been blocked. In Dir Istya the streets are full of teenagers carrying books. They are coming and going from examinations at school. We drive to an attractive arched building that is almost completed. The Palestinian Authority is paying for the building, and has placed a sign that reads: "Municipal Development – For a Better Life". What is actually happening is that residents of the village are forced to drive on winding roads, or climb over rocks in the fields to the main road because the entrance or exit to the village through the arches has been blocked by the army. The residents tell us that soldiers have opened and closed the entrance three times by moving the huge boulder and other large stones and opening and closing the entrance according to the whims of the army. The soldiers stationed here spend their time in this useless Sisyphean task of moving the rocks back and forth, while next Sunday the IDF will no longer guard the settlements along the Gaza periphery that are not adjacent to the border fence. This implies a warped order of priorities.
We meet H. at the offices of the village regional council, who is the temporary chairman of the regional council. H. is officiating until the members of the regional council elect the chairman. The elections are delayed because of politics. There are two candidates who are running. Perhaps in the end they will divide the office between them "Like in Israel."
A man enters the room who is a member of the Palestinian Police Force. He speaks fluent Hebrew. He represents the interests of the Palestinian Authority – preventing provocations. When he confronts youths throwing stones he puts them in his car and takes them to the police station at Salfit "So they will not disrupt things." People in the village are angry with him, and the soldiers, who are well-acquainted with him, conspire against him. Several days ago a soldier stopped him at the entrance to the village. He refused to stop. As punishment one of the soldiers, who knows him personally, and is aware of his actions to preserve the peace, deliberately rammed his car several times with his armored vehicle. The police officer, who feels he is between a rock and a hard place, tells us, "I've been living under occupation for 48 years and I'm tired of it!"
A woman who entered the room told us a story about a man who worked someone else's land for pay for many years. After 40 years the owner gave him a piece of the land, as is customary. The man received financial help from a French organization to build sheep pens. When the pens were built the IDF arrived and demolished the buildings, claiming that they were built in Area C. When he put up a trailer he was threatened that if he did not produce a license the trailer would be confiscated. How was he supposed to produce a license?
Our plans to visit the women's clubhouse were cancelled because the organizer had gone to Nablus for the day. We hope to visit it another time.
On our way back we drove again along the winding road between the villages. ON our way to Kifl Haruth children filled the usually quiet streets. We continued along the road to the Tapuach Junction where we had planned to meet people from the village of A-Sawaya to give a suitcase of clothing from a relative in Haifa to A., an acquaintance in the village. To our surprise there were no soldiers at the junction. There were no soldiers at the bus stop either. A sign near the fence invites Israelis to join a new neighborhood in Ma'aleh Lavona, proclaiming it as a "Once in a lifetime opportunity." We wonder how much land will be usurped from Palestinians to fulfill this "Once in a lifetime opportunity."
We returned to Rosh HaAyin at 11:30.