On our previous visit to the village, exactly two months ago, the head of the council and his staff, whom we met at the council house, were very tense. Many inhabitants had received from the messengers of the civil administration injunctions of demolition, cessation of work, and confiscation of working tools. The head of the council transferred the handling of the injunctions to the office of the El Kuds Center in East Jerusalem. As happens in other villages we visit, it can be assumed that at Kussara too, transfer of these matters to legal authorities will result in the postponement of the injunctions for some time.
However, while the problem of the injunctions has been removed from the immediate agenda, the occupation army creates new limitations for them, this time involving infringement on their right of freedom of movement.
The relatively new invention, as we realized also at our visits to other villages in the region, is that of flying checkpoints. H., who hosts us at the council building, reports on flying checkpoints about 10 times in the last month near the entrance to the Migdalim settlement. Last week, spikes were dispersed on the road between Jurish and Kussara and two people (not inhabitants of Kussara) were detained. Furthermore, the army built a new post on the internal road leading to Jalud and Krayot. The soldiers who man it block the way of the farmers who arrive at their fields, and often detain them for several hours.
H. gives us a letter from the head of the council (dated April 17) in which he reports on this new development. He expects the Palestinian DCO to approach the Israeli DCO and demand evacuation of the post. No answer has been received so far.
A donation from some European countries (Holland, France) enabled the farmers to build small storerooms on their plots of lands, all in Area B, to store their tools. The donors put up signposts to mark their donation, as is customary. Soldiers who serve in the area reacted by scrawling graffiti on the signs. One of them said: "You have no right to be here. A day will come on which we shall banish you." "This is our land" and added a curse concerning Islam. "All this is based on the testimony of the farmers and some of the council members, they can come and testify,” says H.
H. comes with us to see the storerooms from close up. On the way, we get a chance to become acquainted with new initiatives of the villagers, which are being carried out thanks to donations from several European countries: A big industrial building for the storage of potatoes, the initiators of which are now being organized to produce French-fries for marketing. There is an events hall in the process of being built, and next to it there is a small playground for children. Also a large hen house.
At the council house, we meet our friend A., the deputy head of the council, an eloquent man with broad knowledge, not only about what is going on in his village.
Talfit is one of the villages that suffer most from the occupation, as it is surrounded by two especially aggressive settlements – Ali and Shilo. And in spite of this it was never accorded any help from the various human rights organizations. When we arrived at the village and learned of the difficult problems, we enlisted to help. During the olive harvest this year the inhabitants will be accorded help for the first time and owing to this, hopefully, the setllers will not plunder a large portion of their crop.
The phenomenon of the flying checkpoints has arrived here too. One of those was set up last week between Talfit and Yatma, with the purpose of preventing the inhabitants from reaching road 60. In contrast to the situation in other villages in the neighborhood, the settlers of Ali and Shilo commit ongoing provocations – felling trees and attacking farmers even in Area B, but refrain from entering the villages. Thus for instance, A. tells us about a settler from Ali who, riding on his horse, repeatedly enters fields where farmers are working and tries to drive them away. The farmers, fearing a confrontation with him, try to shy away from him.
The army on the other hand, does appear in the village, but lately has refrained from ambushing the schoolchildren and spraying tear gas in their direction.
Talfit has two problems that gravely harm the villagers’ human rights and quality of life:
1. Sewage that flows from Ali and Shilo into Talfit. We reported on this nuisance, which gravely impairs the health and the quality of life of the inhabitants, to a member who maintains a relationship with the Eco Peace organization. Its representatives will activate the branch Eco Palestine to solve the problem.
2. A severe water shortage. Talfit does indeed receive water from Rujib, but it doesn't suffice even for the animals, let alone for agriculture.
The villagers built small reservoirs which are filled with rainwater, but toward the summer these reservoirs dry out.
A. tells us of an even more acute problem of water shortage, at Khirbet el Marajim, where we visited during one of our former shifts following information about the destruction of several buildings there (the reason being "they were built in Area C"…). To this place, whose land belongs to Talfit, water is brought in tankers only, which very much increases the price. A. has plans for a project to transport water through a pipe from Akraba to El Marajim. The army refuses.
A. has 500 dunams in El Marajim and he cannot access them. He also has sheep. "If I want to crossroad 458 (which leads to the Tapuah Junction) with my sheep, the soldiers will stop me and confiscate the sheep," he says.
He tells us of a severe event: a boy of 14 crossed over to the other side of the road. Soldiers stopped him and he was led in handcuffs to Ma'ale Ephraim. After hours of investigations, at 10 o'clock at night, he was released and ordered to walk on foot about 20 kilometers (according to A.'s estimate) in the dark, alone, on an unknown road, to his house.
Talfit, with about 3,800 inhabitants, has a diaspora of about 3,000-4,000 in countries like Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and even Syria. A. says they are refugees who left their homes because of the occupation.
12:30 Tapuah Junction. No soldiers are around. The flying CP from this morning has been dismantled. The traffic from road 60 flows northward. Building material is strewn everywhere.