Visit in Sinjil and Turmusaya

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Aliyah S. (Eng.); Ana S. (Ed.); Rachel S. (Heb.); Nathalie C.; Mustafa (driver, translator)

Sinjil, Turmusשya.

Singil: We spoke with  A., the dynamic and creative head of the village Council. (This was on Tuesday morning before we had all heard the news from Washington). 

Youth: Unlike many other villages, such as Awarta and Al-Lubban,  in this one there is a football field. Now a sports building--for volley and hand ball-- will be built soon.The village already has a plot of land near area C, and it has also received a building license. The planning committee has several ideas for activities in this facility. A. says he wants to know where he can find young people, be near them and be involved in their activities. He prefers them to be busy with physical activities and leave serious problems to their elders.

Improvements in the village: “We are building a new school, and paving some streets. We are also adding another floor to the Council building. There will be a large hall for meetings and other events.”

Settlements’ Harassment. On ridges overlooking Singil are two large settlements, Maaleh Levonah and Eli and four outposts. For the past 6 or 7 months, settlers have been stealthily entering the village at night, to damage cars and spray murderous graffiti on buildings, such as “Death to the Arabs.” “You will leave Palestine! It’s Jewish!”. They come when all are asleep.

When, six or seven months ago, at 3 o’clock in the morning, settlers damaged 50 cars— the village called the DCO who came with soldiers; they took away the cameras that the village had put up in order to check them. But the village never heard of anyone being caught, or even who the guilty vandal was. Will the cameras be returned?

But two months ago some farmers, getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning to feed their lambs, heard settlers entering the village. They immediately alerted neighbours. When the vandals saw a group of villagers confronting them, they left. The shepherds’ alertness and the villagers’ prompt appearance stopped settlers from doing further damage. As in other places, this silent response is more effective than calling  “order-keeping authorities.”

Limited access. Sinjilwith a population of 9,000—has 1000 acres in area A, 4000 acres in area B, and 9000 acres in area C. Of the 9000 acres in C, 4000 are in areas where farmers need permits in order to get to their plots. Permits are given twice a year for a few days each time – in the spring, to work the land, and in the fall to harvest the crop. The rest of the year if they try to go to their land-- soldiers will come and chase them away.


Every so often, soldiers put up a barrier at the entrance/exit to Sinjil from road 60. This is the main entrance from the main north/south road. The village is never informed beforehand nor given any reason for the closure. The villagers then have to go a long way around through fields or dirt paths in order to enter or exit the village. This is pure harassment.      

Trump Deal 100: “The US plan put forward by Trump will bring very bad days for Singil,” A. said, answering our question. “We wish to live in peace. We don’t want to lose our children in wars. Palestinians have lost every war. Israel has won every one. So we have to be quiet. This is our land. We want to live here. Why are some Arab states, like Saudia and others, supporting Israel, and not Palestine?” A. said sadly. “These are the last days, I think, for Abbas, because he is saying no to America.”


Turmusaya: We spoke with H. who is an inspector for the town. We spoke in English and we asked him how he knows English so well. He lived in Chicago for 33 years, working as a truck driver; his older married sons still live there. For the sake of his 14 year-old son, his youngest, he has been back in Turmusaya for 1 ½ years. He wants him to know their Palestinian culture and language. The boy speaks the language well, but is struggling with reading and writing Arabic, helped by 2 private teachers. Other than school he says he loves living here. His father, like others with 4 or more children, sent his children to public schools. Tuition in the Chicago Arabic school at $7000 a year is too expensive.

His wife, an Arab-American born in Palestine, lived many years in the USA. Her Israeli ID expired, so she has a visitors’ visa on her American passport. Every 3 months she must go to Jordan for a month and then come back (two days each way via Allenby Bridge) and renew her visa.

We asked him where it is more expensive to live. Surprisingly, he said in Turmus Ayya. “Electricity, heating the house, water, and medical services are all more expensive here than in the States. A solar panel for one house would cost 20,000 shekels.”

“Olives and olive oil are our livelihood. This year was a good and plentiful harvest and it took longer to finish picking. A large amount of the olive oil is shipped to the USA and Canada.” To our surprise, he said “Yes, we have so much oil.” In Israel a 15 liter container sells for 450 shekels. In Chicago the same container sells for $400. Olives and olive oil travel by sea in container ships from Haifa to New York harbor. Then they are sent by trucks to Turmus Ayya families, who sell the products. There are 3,500 people from Turmusaya in Chicago.

SettlersHarassment. Overlooking the town on the ridge is the settlement Shilo, set up on land belonging to Turmus farmers. Adjacent to Shilo are olive groves belonging to Turmus farmers, but they can only reach their groves with an Israeli permit.  This year by the time they received their permits and came to their groves--they found that settlers had already stolen their olives and uprooted the trees. Owners of plots to the north and east of the town, in the direction of Shilo, suffer the most. 20 years ago a farmer working his land on a tractor was shot and killed. Now, farmers cannot get closer than 1 km from Shilo.

Settlers from Adei Ad harassed a Turmusaya man who bought land in area B, and built a tall apartment building to sell to young couples. Settlers constantly disturbed the builders.  It is very dangerous to go there as settlers may shoot. They threatened that they were going to kill everyone in Turmusaya. When the building was finally finished, settlers dug up the road to the building and now the apartments can’t be sold.