Have you heard about survey lands?
09:00 Setting out from the train station at Rosh Ha'Ayin.
At the Ariel intersection there are two soldiers on the side of the road.
Reenforced troupes. There are about 10 soldiers at the bus station. Two jeeps are parked at the square. A group of soldiers marches on the side of road no. 60, past A-Sawiya. A military jeep and four soldiers are posted at the entrance to Tormusiaya.
After two weeks we came again to the town, following the news: a report in today's Ha'aretz newspaper describes the building of a new road on Sinjel land, which is defined for this purpose as "survey land".This means this is not area C, not B, and not even A. These are lands that,strangely, no one managed, in the course of 48 years of occupation, to find out who their legal owners are. At the council building we meet the head of the council, S.’ our acquaintance, and he verifies the information, and even substantiates it with photos. That is what had transpires, according to him:
About ten days ago it was revealed that construction of a new road had started, intended to connect the settlements of Shilo, Giv'at Har'el, the illegal outposts Ha-Ro'e, Ma'ale Levona and Aly. A year ago the High Court of Justice determined that the existing road, which had been built on the lands belonging to the inhabitants of Sinjel, would remain for another year. After that it would be replaced by the new, much longer road. During this year the government of Israel abstained from acting in the matter. Ten days ago bulldozers began marking the delineation of the new road without authorization, and without demolishing the existing road. Yesterday S. petitioned to the High Court of Justice in the name of the councils of Sinjel and A-Shrakiya, asking that the illegal construction of the road be stopped. He was promised that an answer would arrive today, and now he is waiting for it.
The head of the council stresses the fact that the area marked for the new road is defined in its entirety as C Zone. How much of the land of the villages will be confiscated? The engineer still is checking the data. Despite all this, S. points out, the olive harvest went by relatively smoothly at Sinjel. The soldiers watched and the inhabitants succeeded in harvesting all the yield of their trees.
When we part S. asks to get the translation of the article in Ha'Aretz. The translation was sent to him on the same day by fax. On the next day, in a telephone conversation, it turns out that the head of the council is still waiting for the High Court of Justice's reply.
We arrived here as well in view of the news: it was published in the Israeli media that yesterday a terrorist from the village of Arura attacked soldiers at the entrance to the village. They “neutralized” him to death.
At the entrance to the village there is a military vehicle and five soldiers. Near the entrance there is Ch.'s building material shop. He lived for a few years in the United States and in Puerto Rico. He speaks English and Spanish and is happy to invite us for coffee. Ch. And the people who gather around us have a different version of the event: A group of young Palestinians returned from work in a car. One of them left the car, approached the soldiers and was then shot to death. That very night settlers invaded the village and performed their destructive procedure. Among the damage which was caused, they also broke Ch.'s car window. After the settlers, soldiers entered the village. A patrol of villagers went to meet them, and as a result gas and rubber bullets were shot at them and at the houses of the village.
On leaving the village we are witness to a friendly scene of fraternizing: a group of settlers came to make the soldiers' stay more pleasant. One hand washes the other…
11:30 We drive northwards on road no. 60 and arrive a Yatma, which is located very near to Rehelim settlement. At the council house we meet a few workers, amongst whom is S., who speaks fluent Hebrew. At the beginning of the conversation S. paints a rosy picture: there are no problems with Rehelim and in general there are no complaints. All is well. Only when trust is established the real picture is revealed: 6000 dunams of the village's lands have been confiscated. The settlers regularly cut down olive and almond trees. On one of the few days on which the inhabitants were allowed to pick olives, the stabbing event at the Tapuah intersection took place, and in its wake soldiers arrived and drove the olive pickers away. During the nights soldiers enter the village and look for arms. One of the usual phenomena is the interrogation of children, and their encouragement to inform on grown-ups and on their friends. As a compensation for their cooperation they are promised "only" two months in jail. As a result of the pressure to denounce, a child who was accused of throwing stones and two grown-ups whose charge is not yet clear are in detention. And what about the proximity to Rehelim? If somebody approaches it, he is shot at. Whoever walks on road 60 is attacked.
Apart from security problems, in daily life too there are many problems: The electricity supply is poor, and electrical appliances cannot be used. Water reaches only some of the houses. All is well indeed…
12:15 At the Tapuah intersection the police stops Palestinian cars. On the side of the court there is a military vehicle. There are soldiers at all the intersections.
12:30 Back to Rosh Ha-Ayin.