On the way to our shift we read on Facebook that three children and a 19-year-old youth from the village of Deir Nizam were brutally arrested during the night. Deir Nizam is the village closest to the Halamish settlement, which has been founded on its lands and those of Nabi Salah. We assumed they were seeking someone to accuse of causing the fire that broke out at the settlement 3 or 4 days earlier. We headed for the village and found it blocked by two barriers, the first a “selective” roadblock – a military vehicle parked on Highway 465 next to Halamish, on the way to Bitilu.
The second barrier, on the interior road near Deir Nizam, was created by an earthen berm blocking any entry or exit. Looking closely at the photograph of the blocked road you can see that the road itself has become a storage area for trees cut down outside Halamish’s fence. Is that why the road and village have been blocked off? To search for thieves? In any event, it seems they managed to make clear who’s in charge here. The earthen berm is visible in front of the cars in the background.
We returned to two sites to examine and photograph them on the spot, following the fire:
- The spot where Halamish had invaded the Deir Nizam Forest to build a sewage treatment plant for the settlement and a fenced-off olive grove in the nature preserve (photos in the 22.11.16, report, from before the fire), and an access road. We intend to submit complaints about trespassing, private use of public property, damage to the nature preserve, etc., to the relevant authorities.
- Inside Halamish there is an important, interesting and attractive archaeological site called Huvlata in Arabic, which has been known since the mid-eighteenth century. This unique site is inaccessible to Palestinians, who are forbidden to enter the settlement. I took the matter upon myself. At first I contacted Emek Shaveh organization, Archaeology in the Shadow of the Conflict (with whom we’re working to make Maqam Salman al Farsi, stuck inside the Yizhar settlement, accessible) and learned that no one had addressed the issue. I’ll report on developments.
The fire hadn’t damaged either site. The few homes that have been burned adjoin the road dividing the locality from the Deir Nizam forest. An intensive firefighting effort, including a Palestinian fire truck (according to a Channel 10 report) succeeded in minimizing the damage.
In Halamish there is a structure, built by the British in the Oriental style, with large halls, many rooms, and inner courtyards, which had served the British Police during the Mandate, and until the occupation in 1967 was known as the Nabi Salah Police Station. It is an impressive structure, historically and architecturally significant, which should serve all the area’s residents. Today it holds many of the settlement’s kindergartens and nursery schools.
Last year Midreshet (school) Harei Gofna was established in one of the back rooms. It gladly took upon itself to teach children and adults about Eretz Yisrael: geology, archaeology, history, in a manner that presents what was and will be “ours.” So that no memory will remain of the Arab culture and history in the Ramallah sub-district (“Harei Gofna,” named after the village of Jifna).
A goal of N., from Nabi Salah, who has participated in the previous tour, is to establish “Madrasa Nabi Salah” (a provisional name for the school) to teach the area’s Palestinian history and culture. There are 300 children in Nabi Salah and there’s an appropriate location in Maqam Nabi Salah, a building in the center of the village with three levels and wonderful chambers which could be turned into classrooms. N., who’s known every local rock, spring, and site since childhood, is pained not only by the fact that Nabi Salah’s olive groves are now included in the Halamish Forest/Umm Tzafa Forest Nature Preserve, and its land and water stolen, but also that every spring with a significant Palestinian name, such as El Kos Sprint (the arched spring) has been stolen and renamed The Meir Spring by the thieves.
With MachsomWatch's access to the villagers, along with our Israeli ID cards that give us access to the settlements, to photograph and publicize the Palestinian cultural sites, which are also part of humanity’s legacy, it would be possible to fight together to remove these nasty barriers that can’t be justified by security excuses.