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Barring Life:   Letter from Jayyous, West Bank

Margaree Little

It is a hot afternoon, even for June in the West Bank, but the wind that comes from the quarry where I stand with Sharif Omar is chilling.   The quarry was created by the Israeli Defense Forces, who blasted dynamite into a hillside once covered in olive trees — trees that belonged, as this land belongs, to the people of Jayyous town.

Jayyous, with the richest aquifer in Palestine, and the agricultural capability to produce all the fruits and vegetables known to the region, was once considered the breadbasket of the West Bank.   Now, all six water wells in Jayyous and 75% of Jayyous land are trapped behind Israel's "security" fence, the construction of which resulted in the uprooting of 4,000 olive and almond trees belonging to Jayyous farmers.
Since the completion of the barrier (which is approximately 16km from the Green Line) the number of greenhouses in Jayyous has fallen from 136 to 72.   There are families in Jayyous, I learn — those very families whose land could feed a country — who now skip meals for weeks at a time so that they can pay their children's school fees.
Sharif Omar is a farmer here.   He is a big man, and, at sixty-two, his face is dark and lined and his hands hard from years of working in the sun, but his obvious physical power is belied by a gentle smile and goofy, booming laugh.   As we walk through the groves of lemon, mango, avocado and olive trees that belong to his family, he calls me 'yabba,' or 'daughter,' and tells me about his town.
Jayyous, a part of Qalqilya Governate, is a town of 3,200 people — 550 families, 350 of whom depend entirely on agriculture, and 200 of whom depend partially on agriculture.   At present, according to IDF records obtained by the Jayyous Land Defense Committee, 69 Jayyous farmers have never been issued permits to access their land, and 20 farmers have been unable to renew their permits, though anecdotal evidence indicates that these numbers are not comprehensive.  
Those farmers who have been issued permits to access their land may do so by way of one of two gates in Jayyous, three times a day for one hour at each time.
The South Gate, or Gate 26, may only be used by an extremely minimal number of farmers.   The main gate used in Jayyous is the North Gate, or Gate 25.   It is through this gate that the only agricultural road remaining after the construction of the wall (8 similar roads were destroyed during its construction) passes into the farmers' cultivated land near Zufin settlement.
728 olive trees gone
In December of 2004 Israeli bulldozers illegally uprooted 728 olive trees from this cultivated area.   This land, according to a May 1996 decision made by the Israeli military court Beit Eal, belongs to Jayyous farmers, yet protests against the uprooting of the trees, which were conducted by Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals throughout the month of December, were ignored.
Now, Israel has begun the next stage of the destruction of Jayyous.
On Sunday, June 4, 2005, the Israeli Defense Forces began the construction of a new road in the town.   This road will serve to further isolate Jayyous farmers from their land and to facilitate the illegal 'expansion' of Zufin settlement.  
Plans for this expansion, which will mean the addition of 1,500 new houses to the existing 185 (the increase in houses is eightfold and will expand the settlement 3km to the north and 3km to the east), show that the projected settlement expansion area, known as Nofei Zufim, sits directly on top of the only current agricultural road by which Jayyous farmers can travel to their lands from Gate 25.
Order # 74/05/T
For some time now Jayyous farmers have been aware of Israeli efforts to shut Gate 25.   On May 12, 2005, the IDF closed the gate for five days.   Ongoing peaceful demonstrations by the farmers resulted in the gate being reopened on May 17.   One farmer present at the demonstrations was told by a soldier that "this gate will be closed forever."
On April 7, 2005, the people of Jayyous received military order # 74/05/T, signed by Yaer Navaih Alof, General Manager of the Israeli Defense Forces.   The order states that "because of the need for steps to prevent terrorism operations" approximately 9 denoms of land belonging to the villages of Falamya and Jayyous will be confiscated and declared military zones.   The order is effective from the date of its signature until December 31, 2007.
The blocks of land confiscated by military order # 74/05/T lie along the East side of the wall (Jayyous town is to the east of the wall, while ¾ of Jayyous land is to the west of the wall).   It quickly became clear that this military order was the first step in the construction of a new road, which will follow the east side of the wall from Jayyous 1250 meters north to the Falamya gate (Gate 24), located 600 meters to the south of the town of Falamya.
Theft and destruction of trees
The farmers were given seven days to make an objection to the military order.   The objection, which was signed by the major of Jayyous, was issued to the District Coordination Office on April 12, 2005, and consisted of five major complaints.   First, the road will be constructed 20 meters from the wall, is itself 10 meters wide, and will be 1250 meters long.   The construction of the road itself, therefore, will cause the uprooting of countless olive trees as well as the theft and destruction of approximately 40 denoms of land.
Second, to require that people travel an additional 2500 meters (the distance to the Falamya gate combined with the distance back down to the land from Falamya) to reach their lands will cause obvious and unreasonable difficulties for the farmers.   Third, people who live in the Southern part of Jayyous and who own land on the far side of the wall will lose at least half of each day in traveling this extra distance to their land.   Fourth, there are currently no roads from Gate 24 to lands on the far side of the wall.
In order to make room for the construction of such a road, yet more land will need to be confiscated from the cultivated and irrigable areas.   Finally, until such a road exists, farmers who use carriages, tractors, or other vehicles will have no way of accessing their land.   Meanwhile, those farmers who travel on foot or by donkey will be unable to travel the extra distance to Falamya, and will also have no way of accessing their land.
Caterpillar bulldozers in their work
The objection issued by the people of Jayyous was ignored; the construction of the road began on June 4 and continues daily.   From the hill near the quarry, we can see the Caterpillar bulldozers in their work.   It is nearly 6 pm — the time that the gate into Jayyous closes for the night — so Sharif and I get onto his tractor to leave.   When we reach the gate I am told that I cannot enter the town.
This gate is only open for farmers, the soldiers say, and I wonder how much longer it will be open for anyone at all.   I ask them why I can't go in and one tells me, this is not a country.   This is a military zone.   They tell me that I need to go to the Qalqilya gate, about 4 km away, and as I leave to walk west I glance back and see Sharif's arm raised in a gesture of strength rendered powerless — a gesture that has become, in just a few short weeks, familiar to me.
Forever
Soon, when the road is completed, the gate where he stands now will be closed "legitimately," and, as the soldier told the farmer at the demonstration, "forever."
Once Jayyous farmers can no longer access their land by way of the main agricultural road, the construction of the illegal Nofei Zufim settlement will begin.
Now, as I walk, I can see the rows of electric fence and razor wire in the separation fence that cuts through the landscape nearby and glints in the sun; it is a hot evening, even for June in the West Bank, and on the road from Jayyous, there is no shade.
Margaree Little, 19, is a sophomore at Colby College in Maine, served on the coordinating committee of the Green Party of Rhode Island, and worked as a youth intern at the American Friends Service Committee of Southeastern New England.
Since coming to college she has done organizing work with the Maine College Action Network, GE Free Maine, and SOA Watch.

July 5, 2005
If Only the Full Scope of the Settler's Deeds Had Been Told
They Broke the Public's Heart
By GIDEON LEVY
Rich elite of world gaining control of food so rich elite can profit from rise in price of food
T he media is to blame: For months, it portrayed the story of the "great sacrifice" the evacuated settlers must make.   For years, it ignored the injustices they inflicted on their neighbors and thus helped portray the settlers in a false light.
The result: broad public sympathy for their bitter fate and shock over their brutal behavior, as if blocking roads or even the lynching of a Palestinian teenager is something new or unusual.
But in the territories, the settlers have been violently blocking roads for years, and harsh brutality toward Palestinians is also nothing new.   The only novelty is that suddenly they are showing this on television.
A healthy society
If the media had exposed the full scope of the settlers' deeds over the years — the dubious ways in which they took over land, the huge budgets they received, their violent behavior — perhaps they would have been denounced long ago, as should be done by a healthy society.
If their full story had been told, perhaps we would not have blindly subscribed to the distinction between "moderate" and "extreme" settlers, to their portrayal as modern day pioneers and to the sugary and hypocritical preaching for dialogue with them.
Israeli society chose to be led by their cynical manipulations, and we journalists lent a hand to this.   "A leftist mafia?" What a ridiculous contention.
Never has there been such an impressive media success here as that of the right.   An enterprise that was criminal from the outset was depicted as one of high principles, even by people who favor compromise with the Palestinians.
It was portrayed as an enterprise worthy of sympathy and appreciation, mainly comprised of idealists — and even if some stray weeds sprouted there, they were just an exception.
This false conception is now collapsing — the conception of this illegitimate enterprise's legitimacy, fostered by politicians, military personnel and journalists.   The rotten fruits of this distorted description are now placed at our doorstep — at Muasi, Maoz Yam, Tal Yam, the blocked highways of Israel, tire spikes and all of the other expressions of violence.
For several months, the media has devoted inflated coverage to the suffering of the evacuees, and we are subject to heartrending and senseless descriptions.
Every teenage girl from Gush Katif who pours out her heart in a diary is awarded a tear-jerking column, every rabbi becomes a profound philosopher and every housewife an angry prophet.
Every piece of land cultivated by Palestinian and Thai workers employed under disgraceful conditions becomes part of the sacred homeland, and the relocation of inhabitants under deluxe terms is presented as uprooting and rending.
Palestinian homes crushed by Israel Defense Forces bulldozers, without warning, without compensation, without evacuation.
The evacuators and evacuees are described as "weeping together."
Soldiers who destroyed and killed in the territories without inhibition are suddenly in need of emotional support.   In this way, the price of the evacuation is raised and the next evacuation is prevented.
There is no proportion between the suffering of the evacuees — to whom the state is extending generous assistance in every area — and the lamentation over them.   These spin doctors, the settlers, pluck every string, from their children to the graves of their family members, to create an image of victimhood.   It is no wonder the country is painted orange.
Suddenly we are showing a rare sensitivity for human suffering.   Tens of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes, as their homes, with all of their possessions, were crushed by Israel Defense Forces bulldozers, without warning, without compensation, without evacuation.
The hundreds of families whose homes were expropriated for various purposes, the farmers dispossessed of their lands, the uprooted trees and the children who silently witnessed the brutality — these were never given even a fraction of the media coverage the settlers have received.
Foreign workers who are hunted as animals and violently deported, and even the impoverished in Israel — those evacuated from their homes, with their children, due to debt and mortgages, the unemployed who are down to their last loaf of bread, and miserable homeless people who roam the streets — can only dream of such broad and sympathetic media coverage.
On the other hand, the dark side is concealed.
How much, if at all, has the Israeli public been shown the hundreds of homes in Khan Yunis, those surrounding Gush Katif, that were destroyed only because of the Gush's existence?
Or the acts of vengeance and the terrorizing of olive harvesters in northern Samaria?
Or the abuse of cave dwellers in the southern Hebron Hills?
Or the behavior of settlers at IDF checkpoints?
Who knows how much money was channeled to their enterprise over the years?
Even the excellent book by Idit Zartel and Akiva Eldar, "Lords of the Land," did not succeed in exposing the full scope of these budgets.
Did we know how much a Palestinian laborer earns at the Gush Katif hothouses, those over which everyone is now shedding crocodile tears?
Have we heard that about 60 percent of Gush Katif residents have at least one family member who enjoys a salary from the state?
Have they shown us the neglect that prevailed in the Gush until a few months ago and the recent effort to patch up homes for purposes of compensation?
This dubious enterprise was kept in a fog over the years, and in this fog it sprouted and grew to its current dimensions.
Now, when its true nature is beginning to be exposed, a reckoning should be made not only with those responsible for its monstrous growth, but also with those who failed to expose the full truth about it during all these years.
Gideon Levy writes for Ha'aretz, where this article originally appeared.
 U.S. to Israel:                     
 — An apocalypse of Evil being created                     
 — 500 'bunker buster' bombs                     
More on the building of the wall.
US and Israel's use of chemical agents
He was just shooting at children to amuse himself.

The celebration of Jerusalem day, the US missiles that rained onto children in Gaza,
and, a gathering of top articles over the past nine months

April 2004
US missiles — US money — and Palestine


March 2004
A young Palestinian man hitting an Israeli teargas bomb with his shoes away from demonstrators.
Israeli occupation soldiers killed two demonstrators and injured more than a hundred of them during anti-Wall demonstrations in the West Bank.
February 2004
A Palestinian elderly woman screaming in despair, complaining to God, as an Israeli occupation army bulldozer started to prepare her land for the construction of the separation wall in the village of Dair Qidees, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
January 2004
Israeli occupation soldiers guarding bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes.
A Palestinian man, perhaps who has lived in one of the homes, sits on the ground watching, his small daughters around him.
December 2003
Palestinian boys cry over the body of their father.
8 Palestinians were killed and 40 were injured,in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
Many homes were destroyed during a savage Israeli occupation raid on the refugee camp on Tuesday.
November 2003
A Palestinian family in Jenin, moments before the Israeli occupation forces blew up their home.
October 2003
Tom Hurndall, the peace activist who was shot by Israeli occupation forces while helping to shield some Palestinian children, is declared to be brain dead.
Two Palestinian children were among about 100 Palestinian civilians injured in the Israeli air raids on Gaza Strip, which also resulted in killing 10 civilians.
September 2003
See the home blow up.
Blowing up more Palestinian homes as a collective punishment is a daily Israeli practice (paid for by US money) to control Palestinians under occupation.
The life and death of Kamala Sawalha
A student leaves her house every night, leaving her two young children at home, spends the next several hours traveling by taxi and on foot to get to the university in the neighboring town — just 15 minutes away.
Kamala wanted very badly to study — otherwise, it would be hard to understand the sacrifice she made for it.
To get up before dawn every morning, to leave the babies with their grandmother, to spend hours on the road in the heat and cold, even when pregnant, in order to get to the campus on time; to risk being shot or subjected to endless humiliations around every turn, and then to travel the whole way back — in a taxi where possible and on foot where necessary....
“Suddenly we were facing the soldiers,” he recounts.  The jeep was parked on the left side of the road and its right door was open.  Kamala let out a long scream.  It was the last sound she would ever make.
At 11:30 A.M., they buried Kamala Sawalha in the town cemetery.
Children trying to commit suicide
Now the landscape itself has changed
More Palestinian mothers are giving birth at home because they dare not risk ride to hospital.
Punching an arab in the face.
The father went through it and now the son is going through it and no one talks about it around the dinner table.
Furer is certain that what happened to him is not at all unique. 
Here he was — a creative, sensitive graduate of the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, who became an animal at the checkpoint, a violent sadist who beat up Palestinians because they didn’t show him the proper courtesy, who shot out tires of cars because their owners were playing the radio too loud, who abused a retarded teenage boy lying handcuffed on the floor of the Jeep, just because he had to take his anger out somehow.
 
For archive purposes, this article is being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.