Za'tara (Tapuah)

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Pitzi S., Hagar Z., Neomi B., in the car – Nadim


09:15 – Departure from the train station Rosh HaAyin.

On Road no. 5 the traffic is as usual. No military vehicles are to be seen. At the Tapuah intersection there are two soldiers standing on the side of the road. Encouraged by the calm we drive in the direction of Douma.


10:00 Douma. On the side of the approach road to the village there is a jeep and three soldiers standing next to it. They do not order us to stop, not even to identify ourselves, and we continue driving into the village. On both sides of the approach road there are carbonized fields. Stones that have been cleared to the sides of the road are scattered along its length. We reach the council building by way of the internal road crossing the village.

The entire building is covered in giant posters commemorating the babyinfo-icon Ali and his funeral. Flowers adorn the pictures. Along the wall of the building mourning men sit in a row. As is well known, according to the Islamic mourning customs, the official mourning period is three days. But the people of the village sit here on the fourth (and last) day, waiting for people to come and identify with them, to express condolences. At this time of the morning the scores of chairs posed opposite them are still abandoned. We are received with open arms, and this is not an empty phrase.


It is clear that the mourning villagers are well organized to receive the people who come to express condolences. We are offered coffee, goblets of cold water (and they even thought about paper napkins for freshening up – it is 38 degrees today). We also receive posters with the picture of the smiling baby Ali, on the background of the El Aqsa mosque.


These are the messages of the mourning villagers: The State of Israel could put an end to this cruelty, if it only wanted to. The term "peace" is only used for publicity's sake. There is not real willingness for peace in Israel. As a necessary step, one must evacuate the Esh Kodesh settlement, which is the source of the cruelty. The inhabitants of Israel believe that the Palestinians are dangerous. They do not understand that the real danger for Israel, are the settlers. (At this stage Pitzi recounts from her experience as tour leader in occupied territories, to what extent the approach of the Israelis, who take part in these tours, changes after they get to know the Palestinians better and after they learn about life in the shadow of the settlers' conniving.)

We part with the hope that we shall meet in better days.


10:45 Coussara

At the council house we meet H., the treasurer. He too points at the settlers of Esh Kodesh as the source of evil, and brings us up to date: Two days ago the settlers, dressed in white shirts for Shabbat, attacked the inhabitants of the village who came to cultivate their land by tractor. As expected the army arrived in their wake. The soldiers threw gas grenades on the villagers. A few of the villagers began throwing stones on the attackers. H. show us a photograph on which one can see the well-known  Zehariya, together with the Head of the Council, trying to appease the stone throwers. On another photo, taken from a short distance, one can easily identify one of the settlers. As a result of this incident four of the villagers were wounded by the shooting, were evacuated to hospital,  treated and then released home.


The inhabitants of Coussara were forbidden to cultivate lands which are situated at a distance of one kilometer from Esh Kodesh, and 20 meters from a zone classified as a military zone. And what about the "legitimate" plots?  Their crops are constantly destroyed by the settlers; the setting of fire to wheatfields,  the felling of olive trees, the drying up of water wells, have already become routine incidents. In spite of this, H. considers the army as the main source of all problems. According to him, the settlers wouldn't be able to abuse the villagers without the backing of the army. Perhaps this approach is due to the sense of strength of the villagers of Coussara, who, on two occasions, were able to overpower the settlers who invaded the village, to bind them and to pass them on, disgraced, into the hands of the soldiers. As a fascinating coincidence it today turned out that one of those who were caught then is Meir Ettinger, the grandson of Meir Kahana, who was defined as number one on the blacklist of the Jewish Section at the General Security Service (Shabak). Ettinger was arrested today in connection with the terrorist act at Douma, because of his involvement in a Jewish terrorist organization.


H. tells us that in Coussara, as well as in the village of Jit, there already exists an organization of civil defence. Ten of the villagers, in shifts of a month, protect the village and inform the French organizations about any penetration attempts. The village is also in permanent communication with Yesh Din, Be-Tzelem and the Eccumenics.


Towards the end of our meeting H. brings a worrying piece of news: At the settlement Migdalim, which up till now maintained a good relationship with Coussare, a few caravans for settlers have been put up. It is reasonable to assume that trouble will come from there too.


12:00 Tapuah Intersection. The area is flooded with police cars. Two ambulances are parked on the side of the parking lot. It seems that a young Palestinian fled from his car when an axe was discovered in it when searched. He tried to flee and was shot. His condition is stable.


12:30  We stop at Kif-El Hares


13:00 Return.