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Ana S., Aliyah S. (English), Nathalie C. (Hebrew), Raed (driver and translator)

MAIN POINTS: The Israeli settlements and the settlers are an ongoing problem for the Palestinians. Caravans for new settlers are appearing in many places. Settlers trying to set fire to Palestinian farm equipment, or causing death on the narrow roads are all occurrences that are not addressed by the Israeli authority. Unauthorized Palestinian buildings are quickly demolished. Medical services are too few to answer the needs of the villagers.

TALFIT:  We spoke with Y., the secretary of the village, and with M., an activist in the village.

On the map it seemed that Talfit was a very small village. Actually there are about 4,000 people living there. The villagers feel that they are living surrounded by settlements, as are the villages Qariyut, Jalud and Qusrah. A year ago the settlers of Eli closed off a dirt road leading to the lands belonging to farmers of Talfit. So the farmers have to travel a long way around.

The Friday before our visit, the Muslim Sabbath, a guard in Talfit saw two young men settlers in a field outside the village. He saw that they were trying to set fire to two tractors that were standing at the side of a field. He called more people from the village who came immediately. The Palestinian police were notified and also came quickly. The settlers saw they were surrounded by the villagers and became frightened. Their excuse was that they were just taking a walk in the fields, and that they had not done anything. The villagers had taken the settlers’ weapons from them, but the Palestinian police returned their weapons to them, and escorted them off Talfit’s land.

The farmers of Talfit need permits from the DCO in order to work their fields and olive groves. They have to request the permits at least two weeks in advance in order to get them. But there is one farmer who has 50 dunams of land; he goes to his land whenever he wants because everyone knows him, and no one bothers him. The unemployment in the village is not too bad; they are farmers or get permits to work in Israel. But, as in all the villages we have visited, most of the young people go on to study for University degrees, but then have no work in their professions. No, they said, the villagers do not work in the settlements.

We asked about the status of girls and women, and their freedom of movement. Except for a few very conservative families, most of the girls and women have relative freedom of movement. They can meet and sit together and even have coffee together in public, at a restaurant if they wish. The school system is segregated in the village from Kindergarten, boys and girls learn separately. Many girls go on to study at a University. Whether the women, before or after marriage, have freedom of movement depends on the culture within the family. The last twenty years have seen a change towards greater freedom and a more liberal attitude. Raed said that this was very similar to the culture in Kfar Kassem. As a driver, he noted that when taking young people in a bus for a day’s outing, for instance, the driver is never the only adult on the bus; there are always other adults with him.

The situation with water is OK for the last two years. Most of the houses have wells and also reservoirs for water under the house. But there isn’t as much water for agriculture as is really needed. During the winter they get water from the Palestinian Authority, and save the wells for the summer.

Their one big problem is that there is no health clinic and no regular doctor for the village. The people have to go to other villages for medical services.

When asked about a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, M. responded quickly that there is no solution. The Israelis took our land, so there will not be peace. All the politicians talk nonsense; even the Palestinian leaders are not concerned with the Palestinians! The situation is not good! M. was very definite in his answer; Y. was silent. The Israelis, M. told us, put caravans on land belonging to Beita. The villagers objected and the caravans were moved to Jalud’s land – 7 or 8 caravans on 150-200 dunams.  On Duma’s land one caravan was placed with a settler who has a herd of 50-60 sheep. In a number of places caravans are being placed for settlers. M.’s uncle was riding his donkey on the side of a road. A settler car ran into him killing the uncle and the donkey. A complaint was filed with the Civil Administrationinfo-icon, but nothing has come of it. M.’s last story was about five Palestinian families from East Jerusalem who built their houses in Khirbet al Burajin. The army came and demolished the houses.

M. went with us in the car to show us the hilltop with the new caravans on Jalud land.