IWPS Update Spring 2014

“The ravens will not leave until you have a smile in your eyes,” were the words of a poet welcoming us back in Deir Istiya, a village in the Salfit district of the West Bank, Palestine. The words of a poet and the smell of coffee with cardamom, a water hose with holes made by thirsty birds and the sweet smiling eyes of the children.

After months of absence, IWPS has been catching up with developments in the area. In Deir Istiya, villagers estimate that the security situation in the village has deteriorated since last year: currently, four men from Deir Istiya are imprisoned in Israeli jails; the Israeli army has started positioning a military jeep at the entrance of the village and nightly incursions occur; settlers from the illegal Israeli colony of Yakir vandalized and burnt one of the village’s mosques this year – twice. The night of the attack, villagers found a mobile phone one of the arsonists had lost by the mosque; the Israeli police – who could have easily identified the criminals – instead took this piece of hard evidence and it was never to be heard of again.

Villagers also say there’s been talk of the occupying army erecting a military watchtower at the entrance, but it seems that they changed their minds and are instead stealing land for the extension of the army training area close to the illegal Israeli colony of Yakir. Deir Istiya went to court and the case is still ongoing, with lawyers from 1948 territory of Palestine defending the village. But Z., a farmer from Deir Istiya, says that even though the village has all the required documents to prove their case, Israeli courts can declare the area “a security issue” – which means the end of any legal effort for the rightful land owners to have justice on their side.

Elsewhere in the Salfit area the Israeli occupation has been continuing its crimes against the land and the people of Palestine:

  • This January in Wadi Qana, the picturesque lavish valley not far from Deir Istiya, the occupation uprooted many olive trees. The guilty claim they murdered 750 trees ‘only’; local farmers estimate it’s actually more than 1,500. However, as one of the village’s farmers put it, “For me it doesn’t matter if it’s one tree or one thousand trees – it is my tree.”
  • In Hares – a village that has been suffering immensely from army attacks, nightly incursions, child arrests, and land theft – at least 100 dunums of land has been announced to be stolen for the expansion of the illegal Israeli colony of Revava. Construction work has already started on the stolen land. The army enters the village on a regular basis: sometimes they kidnap a child, other times they just remind the village of their presence, as if anyone who has a family member in occupation prison or whose land has been stolen from them could forget.
  • Neighbouring Kifl Hares is constantly subjected to violent settler attacks; illegal colonists invade the village in their hundreds at night on the pretext of visiting their holy site, and then smash car windows and spray racist slogans on people’s houses. The Israeli army makes sure such criminal acts against the civilian Palestinian population are committed with total impunity. The army is also planning to expand the military tower right at the entrance of Kifl Hares.
  • In Kufr-ad-Dik, hundreds of dunums of land have been confiscated for the expansion of a nearby illegal Israeli settler colony; the army destroyed at least 5 agricultural homes and damaged a water-collecting construction the farmers had used; sewage and chemical waste from the Israeli industrial zone of Barkan continues unabated to pollute drinking and irrigation water in Kafr-ad-Dik.
  • In Bruqin, the occupation also stole yet another parcel of village land that is doomed to become yet another brick in the colonial project. Like Kafr-ad-Dik, Bruqin has been suffering from sewage pollution from the illegal colony of Ariel; currently the village is finishing a 2km long underground pipe across the village that will at least hide the stink and prevent children and animals from drinking polluted water; however, the key problem – sewage-chemical stream that Ariel settlers produce and then leak onto Palestinian land – has not been addressed.

Stay tuned.