Qalandiya, Tue 12.8.08, Afternoon

Ronni Hamerman, Philis Weisberg and Tamar Fleishman (reporting)

Guests: Yosi Yona and Hagai
Ram (lecturers from Beer Sheva University)

As we have decided that from
time to time we should hold a tour of the villages that have been isolated
from the city which is the heart of the residents life, and that have
become ghettos after being closed by the monstrous separation wall that
defines the boarders of Jerusalem and it surroundings, we headed out
earlier then usual on the road called "Fabric of Life" towards
Bidu, a village by Bir Nabalaa. On the road to Bidu is a tunnel of a
kind we have never seen the like of before: it was long and made out
of concrete, with the blazing sun that day it looked like a black hole.
Above the walled that fenced the sides of the road before and after
the tunnel, were barbed wires and metal bars with spicks. This marvelous
construction is to guard the settlers who live (of course) on the top
of the hills in homes with red tile roofs.

We planed to visit a number
of villages. But reality runs on its own time table, with a slower pace
then planed. We managed to visit only two villages.

We came to the two villages
without informing the residents that we plan to visit, but they were
happy to see and talk to us. The waving Machsom Watch flag on the car
opened our way: in very crossroad people hurried to take an interest
and asked whether we needed any help, they directed us and even volunteered
to lead us to our destination.

  1. The trapped hour
    in the village Ktana:

    When stopping by the mosque
    at Ktana to take a photo of the wall that separates Har Adar from the
    Palestinian villages, Yussuf (a resident) came and offered to take us
    to visit a family which is trapped in its own home. We drove for only
    a couple of minutes and arrived at a lock gate which was surrounded
    by a barbed wire, it leaded to a house that was only 200 meters from
    the gate.

    Yussuf phoned the family
    and a young man called Nidal arrived with the key. We asked whether
    we could enter the territory with the car and they said: "Only
    vehicles with yellow plats or BP vehicles are allowed to enter"

    The same goes for those
    visiting the family: Israelis and military forces only. Family and relatives
    are not permitted to enter!

While making our way to the
house Nidal told us that even the family itself isn't allowed to enter
the premises of the house.

Ten months ago he had a car
of his own. One day he dared to park it in the courtyard. His punishment
for this "crime" was that his vehicle was confiscated and
he had to pay a fine of 3000 Shekels, and was held for 12 days at "Migrash
HaRusim Hotel".

We sat with on the porch with
the family. Near by, in the large courtyard was a large pine tree. A
long time ago, when family and friends would visit in the summer days,
they would site beneath that tree that would shad them and make the
visit more pleasant. On that day the BP held patrols and entered the
family's premises, they are the only ones to make use of this small
haven that has seen better days.

For four year now the family
has been trapped in between the fences: "Security for the residents
of Har Adar" they were told. While the construction of the cadge
was in it's midst, the family's water and electricity supply had been
cut off. The spent 40 day in the dark after which they were connected
to the national Israeli electricity company. But never again did the
water resume to run in their taps, they have a water pit from stone
that was dug out buy the building, during the winter the water is rancid.
The water arrives in containers that are 150 Shekels each. As the quality
of the water is poor and the living conditions hard, Nidal's wife (who
has a blue ID) mostly stays with their children at her parents place
at Shuafat. Nidal's brother, Nur, who also lives there with his family
is a laborer at Har Adar. Nur showed us his permit that allows him to
arrive to work, it specifically says: "Har Adar", by the word
"Judea and Samaria" (??)

While we were sitting on the
porch enjoying some coffee, grapes and figs from the orchard, we noticed
a group of young boys bending down behind the bushes in the yard by
the gate. When they arrived at the gate they laid on the ground and
crawled under a hole in the fence which is no more then 40 cm. "Illegal
trespassers coming back from work", Nidal explained. If the BP
jeep that patrols there was to notice them, it would be understood that
the family members broke their word. They are in charge of the key and
therefore they have to make sure that strangers (or maybe those who
aren't strangers) don't enter their territory. (We as Jews who are strangers
to the family are allowed to enter, why do we count?

Nur's wife is about to go into
labor any day now, and supposed to give birth at the hospital in Ramala.
Will she make it to the hospital safe and sound? – Ambulances after
all don't come to those secluded areas, she will first have to walk
up to the locked gate and then drive for an hour or more to Ramala.

Despite our worrying we must
hope of the best.

So close yet so far… it
could all be different, it should all be different… it is all so painful.

  1. Algib village

    At Algib village which
    sits on the land of the biblical village Givon, the person who was once
    the Muktar of the village accompanied us. We sat with him in a computer
    room with a bunch of children staring at computer screens.

    The man is 60 years old,
    he used to work as a constructor for Rubistains company, he said he
    was the head of an NGO association he had established which set itself
    to promote children's education. His sister who lives in the US had
    donated the computers, he will collect any small amount of money to
    keep that place working. He told us that the residents of the village
    own 9,000 dunams on which they used to work, but then most of the lands
    were confiscated by the state of Israel for building roads, development
    and security reasons. They now have only 1,900 dunam of what was once
    theirs. Most of the residents are laborers (he says they are slaves)
    who work in the near by settlements.

He was familiar with Machsom
Watch, he recognized Ronni from various meetings and he has a picture
together with her in his album. But in
his mind, in spite of our good will, we are nothing more then a cosmetically
powering on the face of the Israeli state.

We couldn't deny he was
right, we felt he was adding insult to injury.

There were villages we didn't
manage to visit, people with fascinating and important stories we have
yet heard. We on reaching them as well on other trips.