Watchers: Tom K., Rina T., Shosh A. (reporting)
Translation: Suzanne O.
In Kfar Sava we loaded up with many parcels of clothes and toys which Rina collected for the Bedouin.
The agricultural roadblock at Chabala
The gate was opened at 6:30 a.m. People slowly cross the checkpoints in fives.
Also crossing are: a tractor, donkeys and carts and cars. Most of those crossing are young. We notice that the crossing is jammed and hear loud voices from the other side of the fence. One of them stops by us and explains that the jam is caused by the Palestinians themselves who do not keep in the queue, not the soldiers. When the queue lessens we leave.
Arab a- Ramadin village
The Bedouin village belonging to the Ramadin tribe has been absorbed by Alfei Menasheh and separated from Kalkilya and the surrounding villages by a fence.
There are few people around this early apparently because of Ramadan. We give a number of parcels to a woman in a tin hut and she thanks us – shukran. We see a woman at the top of the road, she hesitates but finally opens her gate. In the yard there is a luxury car and a four by four jeep. This is the house of the Mukhtar – he agrees to join us. Rina talks to them in Arabic. Their son, who speaks Hebrew, prefers to sleep but joins us later.
The tribe has 100 dunams of land officially registered to them. In the past they all made a living from pasturing their flocks but since the absorption of their land there is not enough pasture, feed for their animals is expensive, so they have been forced to get rid of their flocks.
'Voluntary exile' – the government is pressing them to move elsewhere and has offered them in compensation areas which, in their opinion, have been stolen from Palestinians. Obviously they refused.
Originally they are from the Be'er Sheva area; they were expelled in 1948 and came here. They do building work in the settlements but, since the building freeze, they have been unemployed.
We ask what it is that most bothers them and they answer the roadblock – Eliahu crossing which is their gateway to Kalkilya, the municipal town, and to the Palestinian area in general. Instead of going to school in Chabala, a 5 minute walk away, the children are bussed and it happens that they miss the opening of the roadblock and are forced to wait an hour or more for the bus.
Pregnant women, like the elderly and children, are forced to alight from their cars and walk a long way to the pedestrian inspection in all weathers.
An ambulance is stopped at the roadblock and doesn't manage to get to a woman giving birth. She gives birth at home and because of complications caused by this she is hospitalized for a number of weeks.
Shopping in Kalkilya has to be agreed by the civil administration. They feel as if they are in prison.
Because the village is 'illegal' the administration has not connected them to electricity and there are no roads. They have water (by pipelines from Alfei Menasheh) but when something happens, even if it is not their fault, (a roaming donkey which caused a traffic accident) the tap is turned off and they are without water for a whole day. The cost of the water is high. In Chabala it costs NIS1 per cube and they are charged NIS 5.5 per cubic metre.
Electricity: they have a generator which runs for just 5 hours a night.
A permit to drive a vehicle is given to the owner alone. He is not permitted to let his brother or his father drive his vehicle.
Although they live on a rocky, dilapidated hill in huts built of breeze blocks or tin, their only complaint is against the roadblock and against the behaviour towards them of the soldiers.
We give out additional parcels to women and children and leave the village.
Light traffic flows through.
Opposite Izbet Tabib there are a number of shops by the road. The shop fronts are ruined. (See attached photo.) A shopkeeper tells us that during the night, without a demolition order, the owner, a wealthy collaborator, sent criminals to destroy the place. He has been the manager of a shop selling car parts, toys and building materials, for 21 years supporting his extended family (some 40 people) and has now been left penniless after paying the first instalment to a lawyer and to the court house.
Only after he and his friends caught the criminals did the police start an investigation but they released the criminals.
The man is helpless in the face of a powerful collaborator who has connections and money. He, like every Palestinian, is denied entrance to Ariel where the police station is situated.
Rina contacts Yehudit from 'Yesh Din'. It appears that this is an inter-Palestinian dispute and it is not possible to intervene.
A military vehicle stops by us. The officer is familiar with the story. The army does not interfere in internal disputes between Palestinians.
The turning off to Azun: There is a military jeep at the entrance. We stop to buy fruit and vegetables.
We drive onto Road 574, drive through Tolat village and continue on to Azun Atma.
The northern roadblock is open, there are no soldiers. A few cars drive over the crossing.
A driver tells us that inspections take place for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. The IDF has to demonstrate its presence.
The southern roadblock
The gate is closed and two soldiers do not permit us to cross. Rina reads them a letter from Kaplinski and they contact the DCO once again. They inspect our vehicle and the gate to the west is opened.
We drive onto Road 5 and return to Israel.