Beit Furik, Kufr Klil

Observers: 
Aliyah S. (Eng.), Ana S. (ed. Eng.), Rachel S. (Heb.), Nathalie C., Mustafa (driver and translator).
Nov-6-2019
|
Morning

Beit Furik: Beit Furik is a Palestinian town in Nablus Governorate, located 8.24 km southeast of Nablus City, with a population of 15,000. We spoke with A. who is a member of the village Council.

Olive Harvest: This was a very good year for the olive crop. Settlers did not harass harvesters here. The area DCO had allotted farmers six days for the harvest; guards (soldiers) kept the settlers away.

Employment: The rate of unemployment in the village is about 15%. This number includes men who can’t get permits to work in Israel. It does not include unemployed women, because a married woman is not expected to work. Many girls do go on to higher education, but few graduates find jobs. So, though most women would like to work, few do so outside their homes.

Womens Organization: There is an active women’s club in the village. They have reading and writing classes for mothers.[1] They also have workshops and courses and hold an annual bazaar of handcrafts. They are in contact with a Palestinian women’s NGO that has branches in Ramallah and Nablus. We took the name and telephone number of a member, as we would like to come to the bazaar.

Childrens Activities: As unfortunately, the village has no funding for children’s activities nor a leader, there is no large sports field, nor an active sports program. But a small field— part of the schoolyard where children play —is suitable for basketball and volleyball games. But the Council, A. said without elaborating, is planning a new project. During the summer vacation the Women’s Club, with funding from the Palestinian Authority, ran a summer camp for 100–120 children in the school building for 2 weeks.

Computers: We noticed that there is a USAID sticker on our host’s computer and asked if that organization had also provided computers for schools.  He said there were several computers in the Council. The Ministry of Education has provided some computers for a learning laboratory, but not for every child.

Medical Facilities: The village has some very basic medical services a few times a week, but no specialists. There are private medical centers in Nablus, but only about 20% of the population can afford them. The PA supports medical centers in large cities, but not in every village. When someone needing medical care not available in the territories gets a permit to get it in Israel, the PA (Palestinian Authority) pays 95% of the cost. But It’s very expensive so last year the PA reduced the number of such cases (usually cancer). Instead, their new policy is to ask Palestinian doctors working in Jordan to come to Ramallah Hospital for a year.

The Occupation: Checkpoints set up at the entrance/exit of the village are the main impact occupation has on villagers’ everyday life. They never know when there will be one. When something happens in the area and the army is looking for the culprit, they close barriers; but they also do so for no known reason. Villagers returning from work in Huwarra or in Nablus sometimes wait 1-2 hours to get home. The soldiers at the checkpoint might check a car slowly, or a barrier is set up suddenly, say at 18:00, without anyone to check cars, and it is only removed some hours later, at night.

Khirbet Tanna:  This small village, where nomad families—of farmers and shepherds—live in caves and tents in the hill overlooking the valley, is east of Beit Furik, on their land, and is considered part of it. On our visit, we promised to bring toys as a gift to their children. But now at Beit Furik, they told us the children were not there. Surprised, we asked why. During the dry summer months, when there is no pasture for their sheep, some families move to Beit Furik, where they have a house, and space for their sheep in the yard. Others go to Saudi Arabia. We assume that this is for work. On January 15—when there is rain and the pastures are green again—they all go back to the village and open the small school. About 15 children attend kindergarten and first through fourth grades. The older ones go to Beit Furik schools. We promised to visit them after that date.

A Solution: Before we left, the Council head, came in and greeted us. We asked which solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict he saw. “A solution is not near”, he said; “the situation is frozen. We all hope for a solution. Maybe somebody will do something.”

Kufr Klil.

Population: 3,000 people.

At his request, we met S., the unusual head of the majdeles at his brother-in-law’s new home, where he was overlooking some work. S. lived 13 years in S. Tiago de Compostela, in the North West of Spain, where he learned Spanish. Though he hasn’t spoken Spanish since the 1980s, he speaks it correctly,  fluently and with a good accent. Occasionally, he addressed a string of Arabic words to Mustafa. Apart from his linguistic ability, he is also a good actor, and we told him so. He held us in a spell, and even those who didn’t understand Spanish were glued to the changes—sometimes humorous— in his expressive face. Nathalie had to remind us we had to catch a train home.

OLIVE HARVEST.  S. said that many farmers—whose olive groves are in the Southern part of the village, about 1 km distant from one of the settlements nearby, Kfar Bracha and Yzhar— had received permits for 3 days’ harvest, but, unlike in other villages, not on consecutive days: 2.11,  Saturday 9.11 and 16.11. On the first day, soldiers came and told the farmers they couldn’t harvest. Our host told us that 10 people can harvest 15 trees in 1 day. So in 3 days—now reduced to 2—how can a farmer harvest his 200 trees? He would need about 1000 people (a third of the village) to complete the job!

Under his dramatizations,  his facial and body gestures,  his anger and frustrated helplessness are palpable. He says again and again: “No podemos hacer nada.” We cannot do anything. [Israel is all-powerful].”

And suddenly, a historic memory. “In 1960, the road to Nablus and Ramallah was 3 m wide and in very poor condition,” he remembered, “and then the Israelis came and repaired the road. The width suddenly was 50 m wide and cars could now race through. But…”       His expression said it all.

 


[1] Beit Furik town Profile 2014, The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), lists several clubs, so we asked abut them. “According to the results of the PCBS… Census 2007, the illiteracy rate among Beit Furik population is approximately 6.9%, of whom 80% are females. Of the literate population, 16.6% could only read and write, with no formal education, 27.4% had elementary education, 30.9% had preparatory education, 11.9% had secondary education, and 6.3% completed higher education.”  (Retrieved ARIJ)