A Palestinian intentionally ran people over at Luban A-Arabiyya. The day before, when he went to buy vegetables, soldiers had beaten him badly after telling him that “he’s not allowed on the road.”
Ten days ago the army blocked the access road to ‘Aabud by dumping sand on it, following the murder of a young Palestinian, who’d come to the village to meet his fiancé, and had been shot to death by soldiers who suspected him of attempting to knife someone. Cars can’t get through.
The agricultural gate serving both Luban and ‘Aabud was closed about five years ago, and since then farmers haven’t been able to work their lands beyond the fence.
Residents of a-Diq see their lands in every direction being quickly expropriated for the expansion of the surrounding settlements.
09:30 A-Luban a-‘Arabiyya
About two weeks ago four soldiers were run over by a Palestinian, who was then shot to death.
The entrance to the village is blocked by boulders, placed there this morning, which makes entry by vehicles impossible. Last night the army entered the village and fired shock and smoke grenades, as it does almost every night and also during the day.
Settlers pasted posters on the boulders, demanding sovereignty over the location.
Nearby we met a group of men who own businesses in the village. They recounted the events which had occurred and the atmosphere in the area these days:
- Relations with residents of Beit Arieh are completely normal; they have commercial ties benefitting both sides.
- The continuing expansion of Beit Arieh is quickly approaching the village boundary.
- About two months ago most work permits for Israel and for Beit Arieh were cancelled. Today only about ten men have permits.
- Recently the army has been entering the village at night, firing shock and smoke grenades. Two weeks ago soldiers entered the home of our interlocutor, P., photographed everything, every window, every door. He asked them why; they said it was for security reasons.
- Sometimes the soldiers leave their vehicle far from the village and arrive on foot. They also took the grocer’s car without permission and arrived in it for their searches.
- The Palestinian who ran over the soldiers had recently lost his job. He has six children and is in despair. The day before the incident he’d gone to buy vegetables. Soldiers stopped him and beat him badly, saying, “he’s not allowed on the road.” The people we spoke with explained that his despair made him do what had done.
- Last night settlers from Alei Zahav came to the houses at the outskirts of the village and held a noisy gathering, with a DJ. It was deafening. Soldiers who arrived danced with the settlers. After the soldiers left the settlers began throwing rocks at the closest house.
- The men are afraid that closing the road leading to their shops would severely harm their businesses.
- P. said the army is threatening to demolish the building in which his business is located, claiming it’s in Area C and he has no permit. He repeatedly contacts an attorney who charges him a great deal of money. We referred him to Yesh Din.
- The oldest member of the group approached us, very angry (not at us), almost yelling: You talk about a democratic country? It’s not a democratic country! It’s a country that doesn’t want peace! Jews also murdered Rabin because he wanted peace.
The fence and agricultural gate at Luban and ‘Aabud
We asked whether residents can access their fields. It turns out that when the fence was erected they were allowed to access their lands through only one gate, in the village of ‘Aabud. The lands of both villages are adjacent but Luban’s lands were much farther away. This gate also closed about five years ago, and since then famers from Luban haven’t been able to cultivate their olive groves which are beyond the fence.
Villagers also have olive groves next to Faduel. They’re fifteen minutes away on foot. Today they must make a two-hour detour.
We wanted to enter the village to view and photograph the closed agricultural gate and the gaps we expected to see in the fence. It turned out that the road to the village had been blocked in the last few days. This is what people from Luban told us:
Following the incident in which a young man who came to ‘Aabud to meet his fiancé had been suspected of an attempted knife attack, and had been shot to death by soldiers, the army blocked the road to the village by dumping sand on it. Cars can’t pass.
The men told us a woman about to have a baby was carried on a chair to a car that was supposed to take her to the hospital, but because she was delayed at the checkpoint she gave birth in the car.
11:30 Kufr a-Diq
The yellow metal barrier at the entrance to the village that had been removed a few years ago is back in place. Our hosts told us that the army shuts it from time to time. Soldiers arrive every day and go through the village.
About a year ago the Palestinians called us for help when settlers attacked some homes in the village. That hadn’t happened again, but occasionally settlers enter the village at night and throw rocks at the house nearest the entrance.
As they do each time we visit, they again showed us the construction proceeding apace to expand Alei Zahav and Faduel, all of it on a-Diq’s land, which is, unfortunately, designated as Area C. This time we also couldn’t miss the earthen berm stretching on the ridge northward from Alei Zahav. Our hosts explained that in villages like Brukin, next door, there is hardly any land left to build homes for young families.
With respect to water: The quantity of water allocated to the village is insufficient, even though they use water they collect in cisterns on the roofs. The population has grown, and there’s again a danger of severe water shortages during the summer.
Sewage: The sewage from the Ariel industrial zone flow unhindered along the Brukin road.
Galya spoke with a young Palestinian:
M. approached me.
He has a small business at the entrance to the village – the one now blocked by two concrete barriers (bearing posters, “It’s time for sovereignty!”… Since when has military equipment been turned into billboards – for only one point of view, of course…and by whose permission?)
He says life in Luban a-‘Arabiyya has been fairly bearable until recently, considering the circumstances. Things were relatively quiet in the area, and they had good relations with their neighbors in Beit Arieh. M. said he had customers from throughout the country, from Kiryat Malachi to Yehud. The tensions hadn’t harmed his business.
But the recent ugly wave washed that away too. Many villagers lost their jobs, and only a few continue to work outside the village. The business owners say the roadblock is aimed at harming them economically by preventing them from reaching their places of business, and to prove it he points to the other entrance to the village, where there are almost no businesses, which is open. Night raids accompanied by tear gas and smoke grenades and home invasions, harassment by settlers (who held their “Chanukah party” on the outskirts of the village and made noise until late at night) and the army’s roadblocks with no advance notice have turned this place – an island of relative quiet and barely-maintained coexistence – into a ugly mirror-image of the occupation.
The villagers are now tense, still stunned by the changes, feeling they’re being punished collectively, very unfairly, and that they have no one to turn to. They’ve lost faith in their neighbors from Beit Arieh, who no longer come to the village. Many families have lost their livelihood and no one knows what will happen next.
So this is how we create more enemies and destroy the few islands of coexistence and neighborliness left on the West Bank.