Bethlehem, Nuaman, Thu 26.6.08, Morning

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Mili M., Soli P., Tamar A. (reporting)

8:30 AM, Nuaman Village: We left for the shift in Nuaman because of the funeral of the mother of Y., from the village “Muchtar”.  Y. was afraid that family members and acquaintance who don't have permit to enter Nuaman would not be allowed to participate.  Hanna B. talked the previous evening with the office of the Regional District Commander (Aluf Hapikud) and with the Civic Administration (Minhal Ezrahi)  and was promised that everything will be OK, But Y., after his bad experience at the barrier, wasn't counting on it and asked us to come anyway.


He said the funeral will begin towards 09:00 AM. When we arrived at 08:30 AM dozens of men were already digging the grave. Half an hour later the body was brought in with a long procession. According  to the number of people  present it seems anyone who wanted to come was allowed to pass the barrier. Army jeeps and a car of the Civic Administration (Minhal Ezrahi)  were parked near the road and watched the funeral, but did not interfere. They allowed the participants to cross  freely the road between Har-Homa and Tkoa seperating the cemetery from the village- also not to be taken for granted as it is an intercity road forbidden to cross by law (in Al-Hader junction Palestinians once got reports for crossing road 60).  During the hour we stood there 30 or 40 cars went by - just goes to show how useless was paving this settlers road in the first place, and pulling out olive trees and flattening hills for it as well.


When the funeral participants crossed the barrier back to the bank it appeared they had to to deposit there their ID's. They got them back without delay. 2-3 men where stuck in the Carousel for a few seconds but were soon released. Others crossed the barrier on the road and the soldiers didn't protest. Some left in their own cars. We didn't understand whether the pedestrians were obliged to leave their cars outside or just chose to walk from near-by Al-Has. A man with a herd of sheep went up to Nuaman and ignored the soldiers, perhaps counting or them knowing him. He was called to show an ID and after a check up he was allowed to go on. Considering the prohibition on  bringing  animals from the Territories  into Israel it is not to be taken for granted that a Nuaman shepherd taking his herd to the Palestinian side may be allowed to bring it back with no trouble into his village. Near the road there is a sign saying “Mazmoria”, Nuaman's Israeli name. Considering that the village doesn't exist on the maps of Jerusalem and the authorites ignore its legal existence, this is quite an achievement.


We felt so greatly relieved that the funeral was held without disturbances that we forgot how dreadful it must be for a man burying  his mother to worry about permits for his family to attend and being able to hold the funeral only under military supervision.


PS. When I arrived the next day to condole I was told there was trouble at the beginning. Some officers asked where the Cemetery was, and when they were shown the area beyond the road but inside the Wall they wouldn't believe- even though the wall was deliberately built around the cemetery in-order to include it inside and not separate it from the village- the only achievement the inhabitants of Nuaman had regarding their requests about moving the wall. Then the officers looked for proof that it was indeed a cemetery. They were shown The big tombstone the grave of Y.'s grandfather, bearing also the date of his passing away as a proof of the cemetery existing for dozens of years. The officers asked at first to stop the funeral and requested to produce the Tabu (Land Registry in Mandatory Palestine), but the inhabitants ignored him and went on with the funeral without further military interference. They let people pass for offering  their condolences but only on foot.