The loss of the lives of the Palestinian young men and women, who knowingly go to their deaths, shock the entire Palestinian society. If this continues, many families will prefer to emigrate in order to save their children from a similar fate, reducing the population further as a result. The expectation that Palestinian Authority soldiers will respond to the youths’ killings is not met. If that also continues, the Palestinian Authority is liable to collapse. And as the head of Qabalan’s municipality says, “If Da’esh (ISIS) replaces the Palestinian Authority, we’ll all suffer.” And adds: “People no longer object to a solution of one state for two peoples; what’s important is that there is peace.” Danger on the one hand, Palestinian readiness for a solution on the other – both are ignored by the occupation regime. They don’t re-evaluate what’s going on, there’s no communication, because, after all, “there’s no partner.” Thus the daily repression continues, in all its aspects, as if there’s no tomorrow.
09:00 We left from the Rosh Ha’ayin train station.
09:45 Tapuach junction
A police car at the entrance, a Border Police vehicle at the exit ,toward Tel Aviv.
A., our acquaintance, the head of the municipality, who speaks English fluently, returned a few years ago to the village of his birth after 25 years in the United States. He travelled there two months ago to raise money for an educational project, and for the support of families whose livelihood has been affected by the occupation. Palestinian emigration, a phenomenon we’re familiar with from visits to other villages, has also affected Sinjil: some 20,000 villagers have left. Of them, some 4,000 families live in the United States today and contribute to the support of their families who have stayed in the village, and to projects for the welfare of the entire village.
A. is irate in his characteristically restrained manner: about the killing of Nash’at, 32, the father of three young children aged five, three and two, whom soldiers shot to death at the entrance to the village; at soldiers who daily enter the school and take pupils to be interrogated for hours; because residents are forbidden to access their lands in Area C and cultivate them whenever they wish, and must make do with four days a year: two for preparation, and two for harvest; because only ten percent of the village area is categorized as Area B and villagers are forbidden to build on all of the remainder of the land they own.
A. has no doubt the occupation is to blame for the current phenomenon of the “intifada of the youths.” People feel shackled. They must go through five or six checkpoints to reach their workplace. The army’s provocative behavior humiliates people. Children born into such difficult conditions aren’t afraid to lose their lives. That’s why they resist. “The suffering of South Africans wasn’t even 5% of what the Palestinian people have undergone,” he states. A. visits schools in the village, enters classrooms and talks to the children, trying to keep them from joining the dozens of young people who’ve lost their lives. And again emphasizes: if the soldiers hadn’t entered, the young people wouldn’t confront them.
“What’s your vision?” we ask. “I want peace for my people and for the other peoples,” he replies.
We meet H., the head of the village, at the municipal building. He describes a situation similar to Sinjil’s. Residents have also left Qabalan during previous years but, if in the past they left for economic reasons, now, due to the “intifada of the youths,” people are weighing emigration because they fear for their children’s lives. “The soldiers shoot to kill; that’s our biggest problem,” says H.
The village also suffers harassment by both settlers and the army: two weeks ago settlers threw rocks at a resident’s car and broke the windows; luckily the driver didn’t lose control.
The army enters the village at night, breaks into homes and conducts searches. Last week soldiers entered the home of a bereaved family, whose son had been killed a year ago, and made them take his younger brother to Tapuach junction and from there, according to the attorney’s inquiry, he was taken to Meggido prison. The charge: apparently his posts on Facebook. Big brother sees everything…
The head of the municipality refers to incidents in which, he says, soldiers kill people for no reason and then plant “evidence” to exculpates themselves. A schoolgirl from Burin was killed in Huwwara. Soldiers placed a knife beside her body to prove they were justified shooting her to death. That’s also what they did when they killed an unarmed man who accidently entered Tapuach junction using the lane not intended for Palestinians…
Soldiers don’t enter homes in Qabalan. They wait for school to end and when children throw rocks they fire tear gas and arrest children aged 10-16. Settlers from Eli, Shiloh and Rechalim frequently harass the villagers on the few days of the year when they’re permitted to access their lands in Area C. A few years ago villagers tried to build on their land in Area C and were sent letters threatening demolition (the threats haven’t yet been carried out).
Difficulties are also caused in the villages by remote control. Electricity: the infrastructure is insufficient to provide adequate service to the homes. Water: Mekorot doesn’t supply enough water during the summer; it reduces the quantity by one-third.
Here’s what H. forsees:
“The third initifada, if it should erupt, will be the most serious, both for Palestinians and Israelis. The Palestinians are growing increasingly angry at the Palestinian Authority soldiers, who don’t respond to those who are killing the boys and girls. The anger will lead to radicalization. Abu Mazen wants peace, but in the absence of a left-wing government on the Israeli side he has no partner. He’s now restraining his army, but it’s doubtful whether he will be able to control it in the long run. If there is no real peace within the ’67 borders, Da’esh will come eventually to power and all of us will suffer. A bi-national state is also a possible solution. Today many Palestinians are willing to relinquish the dream of an independent state. But we don’t hear from Israelis who want peace, so belligerent voices gain strangth. We pray for the situation to be reversed.” May it be so.
12:30 Tapuach junction
A sole Palestinian is striding on the “apartheid road” in the bitter cold.