June 2001

Monday June 11th

I went to Al-Khader last Thursday. Al-Khader is a village just south of Bethlehem. Unfortunately for the residents of Al-Khader, a group of settlers have put three caravans on land belonging to them, and they clearly have no intention of leaving. The IOF, of course, have responded in their usual manner by declaring the area a closed military zone. This is a nefarious action as the people who are forcibly denied access are those to whom the land actually belongs.

Along with a group of Americans who had specifically come to Palestine to engage in actions to help West Bank residents, the two summer volunteers from Ittijah and I joined the villagers to dismantle one of the roadblocks erected by the IOF. After the preliminary advice talk we walked the 500 yards or so to where the roadblock was. It consisted of an old bus that had been cut in two and almost fused to the road. The pieces were flanked at either end with a mountain of soil and rock.

A few of the villagers had brought along tools but the rest of us just used our hands to try and clear a way through. Dirt and stones were cast to the side of the road but it was the bus parts that were more of a problem. Fortunately a JCB appeared and with much encouragement, verbal and physical, the vehicles were finally removed.

The remaining soil and rocks were cleared from the road and we all cheered as the first car to the village was able to drive through. Some of the men were coming around furiously pumping peoples hands and thanking us. All the time I was wondering where the army had got to. It was unusual for them not to make an appearance, even if there were international protesters there. On the brow of the hill I saw the first jeep. They had obviously been watching us and perhaps decided to let us work hard to remove the block that they knew they would re-erect once we had left.

The group marched up the hill a little way and stopped. A small contingent carried on up the hill to speak to the soldiers, five jeeps having now blocked the road. After ten minutes they returned. We gathered around to listen but I could not hear what was being said so I chatted to one of the villagers. He told me that the army had destroyed their water supply 21 days before and they had to walk to get any water as they could not use transportation.

The closure of villages like this is a particularly vile practice as nothing goes in or out, unless it is by foot. People have been denied medical care as they cannot get to a hospital, and people, including children, have died because of these roadblocks. Food, water, electricity; basic services are all denied. He also told me that the army comes into the village in the middle of the night to terrorise them. They demand entry to their homes and proceed to search them, although there is nothing for them to find. He told me how scared his young children are now.

As we left one of the jeeps came speeding down to the now open road. It was such a deliberate act of provocation. Some shebab were still there and the soldiers knew that during the protest they had been kept in check by the older men. They also knew that all they had to do was come down and behave in a blatantly provocative manner to cause trouble. A few stones were thrown, nothing that could possibly endanger a soldier in an armoured vehicle, but one boy was shot. Thankfully his injury was not serious, but come the next morning the road block was back in place and the villagers of Al-Khader were back to square one.

Bookmark and Share


Recent Posts

Tag Cloud

1948 activism ahdaf ameer makhoul BDS beit jala Bethlehem budrus checkpoint community deheishe economy gaza Ghassan Kanafani home illegal occupation Intifada Iran Israel juliano mer hamis Lebanon Leila Khaled nakba negotiations PA Palestine palestine papers palestinian PFLP popular struggle prisoners rap refugees resistance revolution Sam Bahour Settlements society students tunnels wadi fukin wall war Water west bank

Copyright © Georgina Reeves