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West Bank: Israeli restrictions cut Palestinians off from their land

17-02-2010 News Footage

Just attempting to live a normal life is still an everyday struggle for many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Particularly hard hit are communities living close to settlements or to the West Bank barrier, in areas under full Israeli civil and military control referred to as "Area C" (more than 50% of the West Bank), where Israeli-imposed restrictions are often preventing them from living a normal and dignified life.

ICRC TV NEWS FOOTAGE: ISRAEL / WEST BANK

   
 
 
TV news footage transmitted:

Associated Press Global Video Wire (AP/GVW)

17th February, 09:15 – 09:30 GMT and replay 1415-1430 GMT

Eurovision ENS
17th February, 11:45 GMT (tentative) 
       

Date, location: January 2010 / West Bank Jenin and Nablus districts

Length: 10'00 "

Format: 16:9 anamorphic

Production: Didier Revol / Anne Sophie Bonefeld

Cameraman: Sébastien Moret

Editor: Aurore Vervaeke

Sound: English, Arabic

Rights: ICRC Access All

ICRC ref: V F CR-F-01048

In certain areas of the West Bank, almost every crest hosts a settlement, with its own access road, heavily fenced and protected by military checkpoints and patrols. Since the two Intifadas, the Israel Defense Forces have imposed a range of restrictions on the Palestinians living around these settlements which for example makes it impossible for some farmers to access their fields. Numerous physical obstacles such as the West Bank barrier, checkpoints, earth mounds and fences force people to take long detours for their daily commuting and cut them from family and friends.

Moreover, violence on the part of settlers deters many Palestinians from setting foot on their land to cultivate o r graze their sheep. In terms of income, the consequences are serious: farmers who are not allowed to access their olive groves more than once a year, harvest 80 percent less than from a similar area cared for regularly throughout the year. Shepherds who are unable to graze their flock on sufficient land are forced to sell their animals.

Another issue of crucial importance for the Palestinians living in Area C is the very small number of building permits delivered. The number has dropped to such a low level these past years that many people do not even try to obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities. As a result, expanding families build houses in contravention of stringent urban planning laws. When they do, they risk having their houses destroyed by the IDF. Young couples are unable to stay and work where their own families have been living for generations.

Despite some improvements in the local economy – which to some degree is the result of the removal of some checkpoints on the main roads to cities like Nablus or Jenin and the smoothing of transit through others -- life for many Palestinians is nowhere near normal.

Graciela Lopez is the ICRC's protection coordinator in Israel and the occupied territories. She explains: " Invisible barriers are created by active violence {…} perpetrated by settlers, hindering farmers from accessing their land {…}. Invisible barriers are created by administrative difficulties in obtaining building permits or developing basic infrastructure in certain rural areas. Invisible barriers can also take the form of closed military areas and firing zones, where it is difficult to graze cattle {…}. Together, all these factors create invisible barriers for the people living in the rural parts of the occupied territories. "

    

    

 VIDEO STORY  

The Soufan family in Burin near the Yizhar settlement (Nablus district)

The Soufan family lives in an isolated house on a slope covered with fruit and olive trees. On 7 January 2010, settlers living in the settlement overlooking their fields cut down 20 olive and 3 fig trees on a small plot close to Yizhar. The Soufans have been the target of repeated and violent assaults since the beginning of the second Intifada, when the settlers set the house ablaze in 2002, destroying three rooms. Says Hanan Soufan, head of a 16-member family: " Settlers come down the hill every now and then and start stoning the house, breaking windows and hurting people. " Solar panels on the roof are broken up. " Two of our cars were set ablaze, our sheep poisoned, a horse stolen…”

" We live in constant terror. I’m afraid each time my grandchildren go out to play around the house. The kids start to scream and cry when they hear them. What kind of life is this? " At night, family members take it in turns to stay awake in case the settlers come to attack them. Friends and relatives are no longer willing to come to the house, cutting the Soufans off from the community.

To add to this violence, the family is deterred from accessing its own land, preventing them from caring for their trees or grazing their sheep. Says Ayman, one of Hanan's sons, " The pasture is only 300 metres away from the house. But if we’re caught there, the settlers or the IDF can come and kick us out. " Because of the reduction in grazing space, Ayman had to sell 130 sheep. 20 remain. " Better than nothing " he says ironically. And, as in most parts of “Area C,” no new construction is allowed despite the fact that the family is expanding.

______________________________________

The E'beed family near Mevo Dotan settlement (Jenin district)

The E'beed family consists of 55 members. Since the beginning of the 1950s, they have been living close to the Mevo Dotan settlement, near Jenin, created years after their arrival. The only access to their five houses is through a checkpoint guarding the entrance to the settlement. The nearest village, Y'abad, is located 4 km away on the other side of the checkpoint, which does not ease their movements. Travel is made all the more difficult by the ban on adults using the road leading to the settlement. As the family has no legal documents recognized by the Israeli authorities proving its right to the land, the Israel Defense Forces forbid the E'beed to build or even to start urgent and long-awaited maintenance on the houses. One has already collapsed and the remaining four are unfit for habitation. Though the family is expanding, less and less space is available to them.

Access to electricity and water is a recurrent problem, whereas the settlers living a few hundred metres away receive both utilities. Recuperating rainwater or water-trucking are the only viable alternatives. As a result, water trucking swallows up 15 to 20 percent of their income. There is a rain water cistern on their land, but it does not provide sufficient water for the whole community.

It is difficult for the community to obtain health care. Not only is the location isolated, but it is also difficult for members of the community to reach the nearest village. Two years ago, Manal E'beed (37) gave birth to a child at night in a car in the middle of a muddy field on her way to the health centre; the checkpoint was closed and she was not allowed to use the road. The Israeli authorities have recently undertaken to open the checkpoint 24 hours a day.

For the community’s 20 or so children and young people, ge tting to school is a major problem. There are no school buses, they have to make detours through the fields when IDF patrols or settlers chase them off the road. All this makes them late for school and causes them to miss exams. In addition, poverty forces many children to leave school and work to support the family.

The E’beeds were made refugees in 1948. As a result, they receive limited assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). There are few sources of income for the four breadwinners of the family: a few olive trees, occasional days working in the nearby charcoal workshops, dealing in scrap metal, etc. One brother decided to settle in the village because he did not feel safe walking at night, on account of the settlers and IDF patrols.

 SHOTLIST  

0:00 View of barrier in East Jerusalem located east of Green Line (i.e. in the West Bank)

0:05 Panoramic of barrier on Bethlehem side

0:11 Barrier cutting road in two

0:15 Woman on her balcony near barrier in Bethlehem

0:19 Close up on tag: Call for humanity behind metallic fence

0:23 Various shots of Palestinian woman crossing checkpoint in Qalqilya area

0:53 Wide view of hill on which Palestinian village of Burin and nearby settlement of Yizhar are sited (south of Nablus)

0:57 GV of Yizhar, Israeli settlement

1:01 Panoramic of field close to Palestinian house (Hanan Soufan, head of family)

1:12 Hanan Sufan on her roof looking at her lands

1:22 Close up of Hanan

1:28 Tractor ploughing

1:33 ITW Hanan ( Arabic):

 I sleep until midnight. After that, it's my children's turn. We are scared that they {settlers} will come down, set the house on fire or remove the doors. I stay awake until 4 a.m., which means that some people can sleep and some can't. But here there are kids living in terror. Each time they hear the settlers, they start screaming and crying. Isn't it shameful for them to be like this?  

2:05 Sheep grazing at limit imposed by settlers on Hanan’s own land

2:09 ITW Hanan (Arabic):

 When we get to that ploughed piece of land, we cannot go farther up. Up there, they cut down 20 olive trees and 3 fig trees. We are living in terror. We can't go up.  

2:28 (AP archive) Various shots of chopped down olive and fig trees belonging to Hanan (appears at 2:36 and 2:45). Act committed by Yizhar Israeli settlers on 7 January 2010.

2:40 IDF soldiers patrolling the area

2:50 Chopped down olive trees

2:54 Various shots of IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) soldiers intervening between Palestinian farmers and Israeli settlers in Immatin village west of Nablus (October 2009)

3:05 Israeli settlers with masks and sticks

3:08 IDF soldier and old Palestinian farmer quarrelling

3:13 Palestinian farmers trying to access their land (end of AP archive)

3:18: Medium view of olive tree field, overlooked by settler’s house

3: 22 Hanan and one of her sons feeding sheep in sheepfold

3: 33 Close up of sheep

3:36 Children walking by Ayman (other son of Hanan). Sheep following.

3:40 Close up on children and sheep

03:45 ITW Ayman (Arabic):

 Of course, the situation is extremely sad. I used to own 150 sheep, it was a large herd. Today, I own only 20. That’s not enough, either for myself or for the family. 03:54 It's better than nothing, it's like being drip-fed. As you see, the situation is extremely sad. But what can we do? May God help us.  

04:09: Ayman walking away with sheep

04:14 ITW Tom Glue, ICRC project coordinator for the Territories (English):

 It runs from chopping down olive trees, more than 10,000 trees in the last years, it’s setting fire to crops, before harvest time of course, it's even invading villages, torching cars and houses. Sometimes there is some reaction from the IDF, quite often it’s too little, too late.  

___________________________

04:43 Dwellings of the E'beed family, under the Mevo Dotan settlement (near Jenin)

04:46 GV of one of the five houses

04:50 Bus transporting Israeli settlers on same road going to checkpoint

04:54 IDF vehicle on road exclusively used by settlers

05:00 People in distance walking through muddy fields to get home (settler road closed to Palestinian traffic)

05:04 Birds flying

05:08 Palestinian women reaching community through field (two shots)

05:18 Khalid E'beed and family members around well, fetching water from the rain water cistern.(two shots)

05:36 Khalid pouring water into blue plastic container

¨

05:40 Man showing rainwater rec overy system

05:44 Khalid giving tour of compound and entering a house

05:50 Woman preparing coffee in rudimentary kitchen

05:54 Khalid going further inside house, showing bad state of electrical wiring (two shots)

06:00 Big crack in ceiling

06:10 Outside shot of house

06:14 ITW of Khalid (Arabic):

 We have built houses but they are in a very basic state. Without electricity, without water. And you know that electricity is the nerve of life. We don't even have a TV. Look, this is the 21st century, there are new technologies. We have no electricity, no water whatsoever. We do not have enough space in our houses, but as I said, we must pay the price of our resilience.  

06:45 Khalid in house of her sister-in-law, Manal E'beed

06:52 Manal preparing meal on wood fire

07:05 Close up of her child Abdallah sitting on her knees

07:09 ITW with Manal (Arabic):

 Of course, when I left the house I thought I was going to give birth under normal conditions, with a doctor. When I gave birth in the car, I was scared, for myself and for the baby. I was horrified. I didn't know if I would be able to keep him alive. And I’d been looking forward to this for years. Could I get him to the doctor in time? I didn't know. It was forbidden to taker the direct road to reach the doctor.  

07:39 Shoroq E'beed (13) washing the dishes (two shots)

07:57 ITW with Shoroq (Arabic):

 I don't want to stop going to school but I have a dilemma. If I stop going to school, I know the consequences, and when I look at other pupils, I realize what I would miss. It's better for me to continue to go to school for the sake of my future. I see other people and different things, I can go out. We get educated, we learn from others. We hear other people's opinions, there are differences between what we see here and there.  

    

08:33 Khalid en route to checkpoint before Y'abad village

08:41 Khalid at checkpoint

08:55 ITW with Graciela Lopez, the ICRC's protection coordinator in Israel and the occupied territories (English)

 Invisible barriers are created by active violence around settlements, perpetrated by settlers, hindering farmers from accessing their land close to those settlements. Invisible barriers are created by administrative difficulties in obtaining building permits or developing basic infrastructure in certain rural areas. All those combined create invisible barriers for people living in the rural areas of the occupied territories.  

09:26 Truck passing through Palestinian village of Huwwara, south of Nablus

09:33 Fruit stall

09:37 Huwwara, main street

09:40 Child entering shop

09:45 Butcher’s

09:49 GV of main street showing IDF patrol car and area near petrol station

ENDS 10:00

    

    

 For more information, please contact:  

    

 Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva on + 41 79 244 64 26  

 
 

 Anne Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Jerusalem on + 972 52 601 91 50  

 For more information on tapes and FTP access to news footage, contact:  

 Didier Revol, ICRC Geneva on + 41 79 217 32 82  

 
   

    

 From 01.03.2010 contact tel. ++41 22 730 34 43  

 
   


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