Yesterday I returned from the village of Yanoun, which is Southeast of Nablus. The village is split into upper and lower, separated by a 1/2 km dirt road. The total population of the village is about 97, mainly children. In the past residents of the village have fled under threats of death, so now there is a constant international presence to help protect the villagers and monitor the situation. We went for 3 days to relieve the other internationals there, (so they could have the weekend off). Because of the commitment involved several groups coordinate to effect a constant presence. These include ISM, CCIPP, and the Ecumenical Accompaniers Etc. The village is surrounded by the illegal settlement of Itamar and its illegal outposts. Periodically settlers come down to intimidate and threaten. They have in the past beaten and killed people. One settler in particular called Victor likes to drive down into the village, armed with M16 or similar and drive around and around before leaving, laughing hysterically at people and internationals. Needless to say some of the children there are terrified of all strangers. Last week 29 settlers came to the village, 10 armed with M16’s, handguns or similar, who knows what their intention was?
The villagers can no longer access all their remaining land as they will be shot at if they cross an invisible line on their land. A distinct problem if your sheep wander off too far, so internationals go with the sheep herders sometimes to protect them too.
The village has a generator to supply electricity from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm, the internationals switch it on and off at the appointed time, nobody wants to walk around the village at 11:30pm for fear of the security guard in his tower on the top of the hill in the illegal Itamar outpost, like a tower overlooking a prison. The last generator sits forlornly on a ditch, blackened from where the settlers burnt it out.
A grid supply is being sponsored by the Belgium government and is hopefully nearing completion despite attempts to stop the work by some Israeli bureaucracy. The illegal outposts blaze huge lights all night long from their state sponsored electricity supply.
Even getting to Yanoun is difficult, the roads which once led from Nablus to adjacent villages have long been dug up, closed or turned into settler only roads, forcing one to drive along pot holed dirt tracks for miles and miles to get there.
Think things couldn’t get much worse? The path of the planned apartheid wall will cut between the 2 sections of Yanoun, leaving Upper Yanoun and about 1/2 of the land and quite possibly some or all of the water supply of Lower Yanoun on the Israeli side of the wall, annexing it to the Itamar settlement.
On returning to Nablus we were refused entry at the Huwarra checkpoint because we have tourist visas, forcing us to travel another route, over the mountains, involving long walks and several taxi rides, soldiers on the mountain top gave out passports a brief glance and allowed us through, as most other people who were refused access at Huwarra were. Something to do with security? I don’t think so, only humiliation and the breaking of a people, spiritually and financially. Arriving home to Balata we find there is a new martyr, a teenager who was comatose in hospital for approx. the last 7 months died, having previously been shot by the Israeli Occupation Force.
Two Israeli tanks invaded Balata refugee camp Saturday afternoon in Nablus city. Soldiers fired gunshots at a group of youth who threw stones, wounding three of them. Medical sources in Rafidiah hospital described the wounds of Yahia Alkhatib, 15, as serious.
Last night (Monday night) the IOF entered Nablus by Rafidiah, we hopped into a taxi to investigate the situation, during our trip up town the taxi driver pops one eye out to demonstrate its glass, the real one having been shot out by soldiers 2 years ago. The latest developments are still a little unclear, but we understand 26 men detained, 4 of whom were arrested and taken away, including 2 men who had been shot. The IOF also wrecked an internet cafe during their incursion.
During the evening and night 2 F16 jets, “buzzed” Nablus, flying low over the city and rattling buildings, they flew over perhaps 10 timed each over the space of 2 hours. Later a spy drone could be heard fling low or hovering over the city, its noise not as loud as he F16s but still distinct and loud in the otherwise quiet night. This too left after an hour or two, during this time 2 explosions were heard. Again this morning and afternoon F16’s are buzzing over the city, 2 of them with 5 or 6 passes each so far.