5 November 2009
The villagers of Qaryut are facing a new weekend tradition: the Friday removing of a roadblock, repeatedly re-instated by the Israeli army upon every attempt to clear the road connecting the village with Ramallah and Nablus.
The morning of Friday, 5 November, saw approximately 200 villagers join forces in clearing a large earth mound that blocks Qaryut’s passage to Road 60, the route for travelling between Ramallah and Nablus. Although 15 soldiers, 2 Israeli police vehicles and one car of settlers (who halted to observe from Road 60) were awaiting the villagers’ arrival when they marched down to the roadblock, the action remained peaceful to the end. The soldiers and border guards had initially taken up position to defend the block, however they had no choice but to move back in the face of the large and determined crowd.
While a group of mostly adult males remained at the road block, clearing it with spades, pick-axes and other basic tools, the rest converged between the roadblock and route 60 where a collective prayer was held, in which some 100 participated. Following this, the boys of the village played music and danced the Dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance.
The road block had been created 2 days earlier, by Israeli forces armed with heavy machinery, after the village had already removed it once. It was about 4 meters tall and consisted of mammoth amounts of earth in addition to several huge boulders, strategically placed on a small dirt road where the mountains that frame Qaryut come to their nearest.
Blocking off the direct access to route 60 meant that travel times were increased by approximately 30 minutes going to or from Ramallah or Nablus, heavily infringing on the daily lives of commuting workers and students attending schools and universities in either of those cities. Despite the lack of proper equipment, the villagers of Qaryut managed to overcome this monumental task by coming together as a community and using their collective strength.
After some four hours of hard work, the first car passed through the narrow gap to wild cheers and applause from villagers and internationals alike. Fridays successful protest in Qaryut demonstrates once more that despite the overwhelming might of the illegal Israeli occupation, the people of Palestine can stand up to their oppressors when they take collective action against the injustices bestowed upon them.
The action was accompanied by members of ISM, CPT, IWPS and Project Hope as well as Israeli anti-apartheid activists. Unsurprisingly, the Israeli Occupation Force returned later the same day to re-establish the roadblock, but the village of Qaryut is determined to stand up for its rights and plans to return next Friday to once again take down this illegal structure.