28th November 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Azzoun, Occupied Palestine
Yesterday afternoon in Azzoun village, there was a demonstration attended by more than 250 people. This protest was against the Israeli forces’ continuing night invasions, arrests, and their treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
The demonstration began in the center of Azzoun at noon, hundreds of people marched to the outskirts of the village, several speeches were given and a reception was held after the protest ended. The population of Azzoun has been subject to an increase in night raids; there have been 32 arrests so far this month. The average number of people arrested in the village since 2007 is 170 Palestinians per year.
In 2007 a young Palestinian, Jihad Abu Haniya, was arrested and sentenced to 16 years in prison for being a suspected member of al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. His parents are allowed to visit him once a year, and at their most recent visit they were extremely concerned for his physical wellbeing. After the demonstration, arranged by Azzoun Municipality and Prisoner’s Club, villagers visited Jihad’s family to show their solidarity and support.
The village of Azzoun has suffered considerably due to the occupation, after 1948 the villagers lost 24,000 dunums of land and today they have access to less than half of their land due to settlements established in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The illegal settlements of Qarne Shomron and Malalae Shomron now occupy approximately half of the land with infrastructure separating Azzoun into smaller areas. Agriculture constitutes the majority of the villagers’ income, and the loss of land is a huge burden to many families. Furthermore, due to road blockades surrounding Azzoun, trading is complicated with rest of the West Bank, and 47% of the inhabitants are unemployed. Many citizens have been forced to find jobs in Israel, but every time a member of a family is arrested, all family members lose their work permits.