The residents of Mas’ha and Bidia, who are struggling to save their lands and livelihoods threatened by the apartheid wall, have set up a tents camp along the bulldozer path, together with Israeli and international activists. The camp is a protest act against the land appropriation that would follow the erection of the wall. We need people willing to take turns staying in the camp days and nights. The camp serves also as an information center, and people are invited to visit it. For further details contact Jonathan: 972 66 327 736, [email protected] Activists Against the transfer Wall
On a hot day of June 2002, Israeli bulldozers invaded the land of Salem, north of Jenin, and started uprooting trees and leveling land in preparation for erecting a concrete wall 8 meters high, which will separate the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 from Israel. The erroneous public conception of the event in Israel has been that the sole purpose of the fence is to calm tensions, prevent terror, and return security to the Israeli people. Many believe that it is built on the “green line” (1967 border line), and thus, could save as basis for the new border, when Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. There is nothing further from the facts.
At the meeting of the (previous) Israeli government that approved the blueprints of the fence, in June 23, 2002, then foreign minister Shimon Peres protested that “the plan in effect meant Israel was annexing some 22 percent of the West Bank” (Ha’aretz, Gideon Alon, June 24,2002). The Palestinian areas separated by the fence from the West Bank are both on its western side (“seam line”) and its eastern side along the Jordan River. On the western side, the route of the fence goes deep into Palestinian areas to include settlements like Alfei Menashe, Elkana and Ariel in the Israeli side of the fence. In the few sections where the fence overlaps with the green line, it was decided to construct a further barrier a few kilometers east to the fence.
The winding line of the fence creates in many areas a loop that surrounds Palestinians towns and villages, leaving only one exit. The new wall, thus, would separate towns and villages from each other permanently, and will turn them into isolated enclaves. In most of the fence areas, it will separate the villages from the agricultural lands of which they live. According to an estimate of B’tselem (http://www.btselem.org/Download/2003_Behind_The_Barrier_Heb.doc), the wall is expected to have a direct devastating impact on at least 210,000 Palestinians, who live in 67 villages and towns
Five enclaves of Palestinian villages will remain between the fence and the green line. These enclaves will be separated both from each other and from the rest of the West Bank, turning them into actual prisons. There are thirteen villages in this category, with 11,700 residents. (This pertains to the segments of the fence before it was extended, under pressure of the settlers, to include Ariel Immanuel and Kdumim). The Palestinians are promised that there will be gates and checkpoints allowing residents separated from their lands to still reach this land. But past and present experience taught us that crossing such checkpoints depends on the goodwill of soldiers, who do not operate by explicit rules, known to the Palestinians. Often the soldiers hold for hours Palestinians trying to cross a roadblock, confiscate their identity cards, their car keys, or even the car itself. Most likely, crossing the presumed gates of the fence would require permits of Israeli authorities.
THE LANDS OF MAS’HA
In April 23, 2003, the bulldozers have arrived to the village Mas’ha, adjacent to the Israeli settlement Elkanah. Elkana is about 7 kilometers away from the green line, but the route of the fence, approved in the government meeting of June 24, was changed so that it will include Elkana as well in the Israeli side. The bulldozers have started to separate Mas’ha, in effect, from its only remaining source of livelihood after two and a half years of closure. 98% of the lands of Mas’ha will be placed in the Israeli side of the fence – between the fence and the green line, together with thousands of dunams of Bidia Sanniriya and other villages in the area. Along with the lands that will be cut off the villages, the fence disconnects the road from Jenin to Ramallah, a segment of which will now be in the Israeli side of the fence, thus establishing further the isolation of the Palestinian enclaves from each other.
It wasn’t only land greed that sent the bulldozers to the lands of Bidia and Mas’ha. These lands are on the western part of the Mountain groundwater basin – the large water reservoir originating in the West Bank, whose water flow under the ground also to the center of Israel. Out of six hundred million CM (cubic-meter) of water that the Mountain reservoir provides in a year, Israel withdraws in different areas about five hundred million. Control over the water sources has always been a central Israeli motivation for maintaining the occupation. The Labor governments of the seventies located the first settlements that they approved in areas defined as “critical locations” for drilling. Elkana was one of these settlements, founded within a plan that was given the (misleading) name “preservation of the sources of the Yarkon”. Since the occupation in 1967, Israel prohibited Palestinians from digging new wells, but in the lands of Mas’ha and Bidia, as well as in lands that were already cut off from Kalkilia and Tul Karem, there are still many operating wells from before 1967. Their continued use may reduce a little the amount that Israel can withdraw. In isolating the villages from their wells, Israel attempts to draw a double profit: Controlling the water reserves, and eliminating livelihood sources of the villages, thus forcing their residents out. Indeed, since June 2002, 4000 residents of the Kalkilia area have already left. Thus, the fence is a quiet form of transfer.
Let us stay clear – this fence is not about peace or security. Transfer, land greed and control of water resources are the fuel driving the engines of Israeli bulldozers.