Jayyus, September 8th
On Saturday, the 8th of September, 50 villagers from Jayyus and the surrounding area met together with an equal number of Israeli and international activists to demonstrate non-violently against the Apartheid Wall. They gathered at one of the gates in the wall which local farmers have to go through to reach their land. Only those farmers lucky enough to have permits are allowed to reach their land, and as demonstrators learned later from the speeches given, often times the permits are issued for members of family who are not able to work, or are not in the country, or are dead, or are under the age of 15, or older than 50. In a village of around 4,000 people, 85% of which depend on their farmland for survival, only 90 are today able to access their land with permits.
When permits are given, farmers are allowed to enter one of three gates to access their land. The gate that a farmer is allowed to enter from is usually the gate farthest from his land, making his work more arduous and time consuming. Gates are officially open only for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, sometimes an hour around midday. However, in practice this depends more on the whim of the soldiers, who can open the gates only for fifteen minutes if they wish, and turn all others away for being late.
Villagers spoke about the lack of available water resources to the land on the other side of the wall. One farmer said the people of the village are able to take tanks for water to a reservoir, which is situated on his land, however they are unable to bring those tanks back to their houses. Attempts to bring water tanks back to the village have been halted by the army and the locals now see it as a waste of time and resources to attempt to collect water in this way. Additionally he stated that there was a court decision to allow pipes to be built connecting the reservoir on this farmer’s land, to the reservoir in Jayyus. However despite this order being given in 2003, the army has failed, to this very day, to give the needed permits to actually build the pipes, thus leaving the reservoir on this farmer’s land inaccessible.
The villagers are tired of waiting for the army to carry through the decisions of the court, they are tired of waiting while more and more of them are unable to reach their land, unable to continue the work of their fathers, and their father’s fathers. They came together to demonstrate, non-violently, that they would not be quiet while the Israeli military forced them into starvation as a tactic to encourage emigration and further establish the myth of Israel stealing a land without a people. Though the villagers were angry, and justly so, the demonstration ended without violence. Though the army stood at the gate to the land of Jayyus village with guns ready, the farmers did not respond to their provocation. People went back to the village, without arrests, without injuries, with the knowledge that they would return.