Nabi Samwil | Machsomwatch
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Nabi Samwil

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Nabi Samauil - a village literally placed in a transparent cage.

This Palestinian village is 800 years old. It is located on top of a hill, its altitude 890 meters above sea level, and overlooks the entire area. According to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, the Prophet Samuel was buried here. In recent years the mosque has been turned into a popular Jewish prayer site. Jews use the basement for prayer, and Muslims the upper part of the mosque. New signs are placed here, containing verses from the Jewish scriptures and mention of exclusively Israeli historical times. The nearby spring has become a popular site of ritual bathing. On Iyar 28th, every year, a mass-celebration is held in memory of the Prophet Samuel.

Until 1967 this was a well-off village that developed around the mosque, with a population of 1,000 owning thousands of dunams of farmland. In 1967 most of the villagers fled, and only 250 remained. In 1971 Israel expelled them, and until the 1990s completely razed its houses that were sitting on a Crusader and Hellenist archeological stratum, without any kind of compensation for the expelled inhabitants. Parts of the village lands are at present used for the settler-colony of Har Shmuel, another part has been declared a national park. Villagers have tried to restore their lives on their remaining lands, a short distance from their original homes, in an area that formerly held structures to house the village’s livestock.

Then the Separation Fence was erected in the West Bank, the village remained an enclave caught between the Green Line and the Fence, and its inhabitants were torn away from other West Bank villages. Any exit to the West Bank requires crossing the distant Jib checkpoint, with a permit. The movement to Israel inside the Green Line is forbidden as well. In 1995 the entire village area was declared a national park – not only around the mosque and antiquities around it which take up about 30 dunams, but an area of no less than 3,500 dunams including the new village and all of its land. Any additional construction is forbidden: any room, caravan, fence, a newly planted tree. Work permits are issued sparingly. There is a tiny school made up of several caravans.

Watch the movie by Eran Turbiner and MachsomWatch: NABI SAMWIL 1099-2099, a film by Eran Torbiner