The purpose today was again to clarify the matter of the agricultural checkpoints ("gates") in the separation fence near Oranit and Sha'arey Tiqva, and to photograph them.
10.30 We went for a shift in the area of the villages: Beit Amin, Siniriya, Izbat Salaman and Jil'ud. The purpose was was to clarify again the matter of the agricultural heckpoints ("gates") in the separation fence near Oranit and Sha'arey Tiqva, the crossing conditions and the declared opening hours versus the actual ones, and to photograph them.
11.30 We arrived at Beit Amin, and thanks to a telephone conversation on the preceding evening, N., the Head of the Council, was already waiting for us at the entrance to the Majelas. We sat down to talk in his office, in a nearly empty building.
At the outset he explained to us that he is a very religious person, and that it pains him that religious zealots interpret religion in a criminal manner.
He recounted the problems, which are well known from other places, but do still make one's blood boil. After 2/3 of the villages lands were confiscated years ago, and were used, together with the lands of Azun and of Siniriya, to set up the settlements of Oranit and Sha'arey Tiqva and to build the fence – five months ago another 2500 dunams were confiscated in order to divert the route of the fence. The excuse was that it was a security matter, but according to him these lands were intended in fact to the expansion of Oranit.
The villagers find it difficult to cultivate their olive groves beyond the fence, as the permits are given for several days a year only, for plowing and harvesting. To reach their lands, which adjoin the fence, they may cross at the single agricultural CP, which is situated on the road between Beit Amin and Izbat Salaman. The village's water supply comes from one well at Azun. Electricity they buy from Israel.
The Head of the village has no complaints against the settlers, his neighbours, the village has proper relations with them. He has grave complaints against the army, whose soldiers treat the Palestinians without respect and with "the force of arms". The army enters the village from time to time, but there are not many arrestes of young men.
We went with A. on a tour in the immediate neighborhood. He wanted to show us especially grave environmental hazards and the road to the agricultural CP.
The CP is Oranit Gate, number 1447.
Like in other places here too it is opened three times a day for less than an hour. The opening hours are not kept as scheduled. In the morning it happens that they are half an hour or even more late. It also happens that they don't open the gate at all, without prior announcement, and then the farmers go back and forth from their house to the gate (a considerable distance) in the hope that the miracle would occur and somebody would after all come to open the gate.
The passage to the fields is a journey of misery. This is a long way from the village westwards to the wadi that leads to the gate. From there they are forced to go by way of a sewage "lake", to cross the CP and to continue going in the opposite direction, eastwards, about 3 kms, to their lands, and only then to begin their working day.
The big surprise were two environmental hazards:
A sewage pipe that comes down from Oranit and spills into the wadi with a horrible stench, just a few dozen meters from the houses of the village, and thus makes the lives of the inhabitants miserable. In addition to the stench and to the health hazard, this sewage reservoir causes a mosquito plague.
A small sewage "lake" in the wadi that separates the villages from the agricultural gate, Oranit 1447. Those who don't have a high-wheeled vehicle, are forced to encircle this shallow lake on foot or to cross it. And if they don't want to be immersed up to their knees in sewage, they are forced to cross it walking on tubes which they toss into the water, to walk on. A weird sight. Another abuse which the army and the authorities are no doubt aware of, and perhaps even pleased by…
As all this is in Zone C, the villagers are forbidden to take care of this unbelievable hazard. The villagers approached the Palestinian DCO, which has to approach the Israeli DCO with the request to take care of these hazards.
The appeals were made again and again, but nothing was solved.