Eliyahu Crossing, Wed 11.3.09, Afternoon

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Report of a Visit to Ras Atira Because of a Call for Help

A resident of Ras Atira is imprisoned in his home within his village because his authorization to reside in the seamline zone has been cancelled.  He telephoned Tami and asked for her help.  We stopped to visit him on our way to Beit Iba.

There are four villages trapped in the area of Alfei Menasheh, one of which is Ras Atira.  They are trapped within the finger-shaped enclave that the separation fence has created within the West Bank for annexing the area of the settlement of Alfei Menasheh as part of the State of Israel.
 A Palestinian resident of Ras Atira (whose name will be kept discreet) complained to us that the permit to remain in his house in Ras Atira was taken from him a month and a half ago.  Why was it revoked?  Because he entered Israel without a permit to earn a living for his family.  He was caught within Israel and his “authorization to reside within the seamline zone” was taken from him at the police station in Kfar Saba.  He was not given any certification of the revoking of the authorization.  Since then he is “imprisoned” within the seamline zone and is considered an illegal resident in his own village and house.

Without a certificate of residence in the seamline zone he cannot get through any checkpoint in the direction of the West Bank through the Habla checkpoint or the city of Qalqilya through Sha’ar Elihayu.  He therefore cannot take care of basic needs such as shopping and work.
The worse is that during the past week he could not take his son who was sick to the hospital in Qalqilya.

We stopped in the village to meet him and try to help.  His house is at the top of a hill, and from it you can see all the villages in the surrounding area and the fence that divides and separates them from each other.

We were received by two brothers, Nasser (the person lodging the complaint) and his brother Bassam.  Both speak Hebrew.  Nasser told the story of his authorization.  He was told to go to the Liaison and Coordination Administration to get it back.  At the Liaison and Coordination Administration he was told to go to the checkpoint where he would receive it.  He went to the checkpoint where he was told to go somewhere else.  He was given the run around again and again until he finally gave up and turned to us.

Michael Sfarad expressed willingness to voluntarily take care of the matter (because he does not deal with these things).  We were lucky because Michael was to arrive within the hour to deal with the construction of another fence (which will be related later on.)  Tami then suggested to Nasser that he sign a document offering power of attorney to Michael to represent him in this matter.  She called Michael and told him that Nasser would meet him when he arrived and give him power of attorney to deal with the matter.  It seemed that our visit was to have some benefit.We were still feeling pleased at tying up the loose ends and Tami continued to try to talk with the head of the Liaison and Coordination Administration in Qalqilya and tell him the story of Nasser’s certificate.  The head of the Liaison and Coordination Administration told Tami that it was all a lie and Nasser was certainly lying.  Tami explained to him quietly and respectfully that Nasser was entitled to live and support his family even if he was lying.  However, he is not a liar.  Gradually he accepted her claim and said, “All right, perhaps he’s truly innocent, so let me talk to him.”  Then – they spoke together in perfect Arabic and we felt that the man would receive his certificate from the head of the Liaison and Coordination Administration as soon as possible.
 That truly made our day.

The story of the new fence:

During our visit we were joined by an older man who told us that a fence is now being built on the land in order to return the village to the West Bank and isolate it from the seamline zone.  It is being built on the line where the residential homes end and agricultural land begins.  It is evident to the residents that all their land is being confiscated.  The older man claims that the fence is being built directly on his house and land.

Michael Sfarad will arrive shortly in order to see and hear the man and to submit a complaint to the Supreme Court.

After the separation fence is built the village will be entrapped between two fences.  The new one will isolate it from Qalqilya, and the old one presently isolates it from the West Bank.  It will be possible to reach these places only through the checkpoints.  The village land will be annexed to Israel, and the people will remain in their homes, but without their land.
There are other matters pertaining to daily life:

There are no shops in the village itself.  Residents must travel to Qalqilya in order to buy various groceries and food.  IN order to do that they must pass through a checkpoint.  Food can be brought through the checkpoint only in limited quantities.  For example, only one tray of eggs (30), 5 kilograms of meat, etc are allowed.  The family is large and these amounts are not enough, but there is no choice.  That is the situation and one has to get used to it.
 There are soldiers who know what the situation is and try to ignore it, but not all of them do so and not all the time, and a chance has to be taken.  (Another reason to say that they are liars).