MAIN POINTS: Both villages suffer harassment from the settlements near them. The village lands are taken over by settlers and the army offers no protection to the Palestinians. We encountered an atmosphere of despair in speaking about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Jalud: The village Council is always closed in the morning; we spoke with M., and 2 other men, in his grocery store near the Council.
Some time ago the villagers saw bulldozers on their land, leveling the fields, without telling the village what was happening. This is standard procedure in the OPT. Two weeks later caravans appeared on the leveled fields on a hillside above the village. The villagers don’t dare go near the caravans, so they don’t really know how many there are. They also do not know to which older settlement they are connected. It might be an extension of the settlements Esh Kodesh, Adei Ad or Ahya. As M. said, “Meanwhile there are no problems with them. They just took our land; that’s all.” When asked if there is harassment from settlers, he said that from time to time some settlers come into the village and make trouble. A young boy was hit in the head and had to be taken to the hospital; sometimes they break car windows or do other damage.
There is one school in the village, for boys and girls, from first grade through high school. Many of the high school graduates go on to university studies. Most university graduates work in construction in Ramallah; a few find work in the Palestinian Authority.
We asked how these men see a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They said they see nothing but despair. “There is no solution to the conflict. If the Israelis really wanted peace they would show more respect toward the Moslem religious places. Some settlers came into the mosque in Jalud and acted as if the place belonged to them. Another time settlers came to the yard of the mosque accompanied by Israeli soldiers. When the villagers protested to the soldiers, the soldiers beat them. Of course, nothing happened to the settlers because the army is there to protect them.” B’tselem, the organization for human rights, tries to help the villagers. It is mainly the very religious Jewish settlers who make the most problems.
Qaryut: We spoke with M. who is the head of the Council.
Harassment in the village comes mainly from the settlers in Eli, who sometimes destroy olive trees. There is one Israeli, named Koren, and his wife, who moved themselves into an empty house on Qaryut’s land. He says, “This is Eretz Yisrael and I can live wherever I want. And I can do whatever I want to do, wherever I want.” A while ago he destroyed 12 olive trees in a grove that belongs to a farmer in the village.
Qaryut has a population of 3000. There are two schools, one for boys and one for girls. As usual, only a few university graduates find work with the Palestinian Authority.
When asked, he said that he wants to see the end of the Israeli occupation, and to live in a Palestinian state. He added that he has nothing against the women of Machsom Watch, and he is happy to meet with us. But he has no confidence in the reports that we write. He hasn’t seen that we have influenced anyone or changed anything. But he is happy to see us anyway. On that note we said goodbye until the next time.