Al Lubban ash-Sharqiya and As Sawiya
Al Lubban ash-Sharqiya
As we did the last time we visited, so also this time we went straight to the mini-market belonging to A. Her young son was at the desk; he immediately called her and she came to meet us. The family lives upstairs in the building housing the market. A. has 3 children; her oldest son is about 11 years old, and then 2 girls, the youngest, 2 1/2 years old, was in her arms. A. has an MA degree in Democracy and Human Rights from Bir Zeit University. She was a lecturer at Bir Zeit University until she gave birth to her first child. Since then she has run the mini-market. She says she will return to teach at the university when her children are old enough for her to be away for hours from the home. Her family is multilingual—her Grandmother is half-German and half-Brazilian, and her mother American. She herself was born in Jerusalem, and speaks beautiful English and it’s a pleasure to talk with her.
The IDF: For the last 3 days soldiers came into the village between 10:00 and 12:00. They stood ready, with their weapons held in their hands, waiting for the boys to come out of the elementary school, which is close to the market. “Isn’t it vacation time?” we asked. Some of the boys, 10-15 of them, are getting extra lessons to prepare them for the new school year which begins on September 2nd. The soldiers are both a provocation and a preventive. They are waiting to see what the boys will do – perhaps they’ll throw stones at them or some other act for which they will be taken in. “How do the soldiers know that there are boys at the school now, during the vacation?” The answer, “mashtapim!” The Palestinians know that the army has coerced some people to collaborate with them. Luckily nothing happened during these last 3 days. But at other times, during the school year, when the army has entered the village, stones were thrown and the soldiers fired tear-gas at the children.
In April, the soldiers fired a tear-gas canister into the market, breaking the windows in her home above; A. had to close down the market for 2 days to let it air out, although no one in the market had done anything to provoke the firing. Since then, she no longer lives at home. Fearful for her children’s safety, she lives with a neighbour’s family, and in the weekend goes to her parents’ home in another, quieter village. Sometimes the boys burn tires; this really angers the soldiers. When such activity by the soldiers begins, A. shuts up the market and runs as fast as she can with her children to get as far away as possible.
Al Lubban ash-Sharqiya,There are two high-schools, one for boys and the other for girls, along Road 60, for the two villages, Al Lubban-ash-Sharqiya and As Sawiya together.
The ARMY also comes into the village at night. There are periods when they come every night. Two months ago they came into the village shooting at 4:00 in the morning. As A. says, you just have to try to stay calm; don’t shut the window or they’ll think you’re trying to hide something and come up to your door. Sometimes they will take a few men from their homes and then let them go later. One night they took six men in the middle of the night and then dropped them off in six different places. For instance, one was dropped off in Turmus Aya and another in Bir Zeit. Of course the men were without their phones, so they had to find help wherever they could. A. says the army has said to them, “If you, Palestinians, continue to do what you’re doing, then we, the IDF, will continue to do what we are doing.”
WATER AND ELECTRICITY: All the homes have water tanks on the roof; they couldn’t manage without them. Usually they receive running water 3 days each week, Sunday, Monday and Friday. Last week they went all week without running water. This summer has been very hard, harder than other years. Most of the houses have flush toilets; only the very old houses have an outhouse. Some people are buying water from the tankers, but that is an expense very few can afford. Also, the Mosque gets water just like the homes, but doesn’t use all of it, so the water can be given to needy families. “Water is for the settlers,” says A. A short research indicates this is true.
In 2012 the UN reported that settlers took over one of their springs of water, which they used for irrigation and domestic purposes; and villagers are only allowed to use another one a few days during harvest time (retrieved Wikipedia).
There doesn’t seem to be a problem with electricity which they get from Nablus.
MEDICAL SERVICES are very insufficient. Two days each week there is a doctor and a nurse who come to Lubban, from 11:30 to 13:00. The doctor and nurse are in As Sawiya from 8:00 till 11:30 am. On other days and times sick people in both villages have to go to Salfit or Nablus, where there are hospitals, for medical services.
SETTLERS: A. says that in the past there were problems with settlers from Eli and Rechalim. Now there has been a period of quiet.
WOMEN: As we sat and talked with A. other women came into the market. One woman sat down and listened to us, although I’m not sure she understood English. A. told us that the woman, married to a man in Al Lubban, is originally from Gaza where she still has family whom she cannot visit. In addition, her mother is ill with cancer and was allowed to go to a hospital in Ramallah, but this woman, her daughter, isn’t allowed to visit her. Will the injustice never end?
We touched on a very delicate subject about which A. was very open. She has only 3 children, and is happy with that. She told us of a cousin who has 14 children. It isn’t the fault of the religion, she said. Mohammed was in favor of contraceptives. Yes, that’s what she said. But many husbands want a lot of children so that the boys will help them with work. This is a subject which could be looked into.
A Solution: We asked A. what she sees as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is no solution, she says. The situation will only get worse. There must be one Palestinian state in the whole land with all the people living in peace with each other. The settlers will not leave, and the Palestinians will not leave. She goes to her family quite often; they live near the settlement of Ofrah. The area is beautiful, says A., and the settlers won’t want to leave. The settlers in Ofrah don’t bother the Palestinians in the nearby villages, but they also don’t speak with each other. Two states will not be easy; look what is happening in Gaza. “We have to be thankful for what we have.” We did not get into a big discussion with A. We parted with her in love and peace.
We spoke with A., the secretary at the Council. He remembered us from previous visits. Since we had spent a lot of time in Lubban, we had just a short amount of time to be in Sawiya.
ELECTRICITY: He told us that in a month there will be a new electricity network for Al Lubban ash-Sharqiya and As Sawiya, together. The new network will strengthen the electricity output for both villages
WATER: Their water comes from Mekorot, and they seem to have enough because, unlike Al Lubban, our host said, the village has a water reservoir. They are on the same water line as the settlements, Eli and Rechalim.
SETTLERS: Three months ago, at night, settlers came into the village and slashed the tires on 32 cars in the village. Army representatives came and looked at the videos on the security cameras that the village had set up. And then the army left. Nothing ever came of the complaint from the village. The villagers had to pay for their own tires.
The IDF: Soldiers from the Border Police unit come to the entrance to the village almost every day. They set up a temporary checkpoint and stop cars going into and out of the village. They check people’s identity cards. Once they even commanded the young men to strip in front of them. This is supposedly for security purposes. Whose security?