Monday, March 08, 2021

Qalqilya District: an inhumane situation established by the Israeli authority

By E. VAN R - May 02, 2012
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Qalqylia] [Israeli Wall] [Israeli law] [IDF] [Displacement] [Arab Ramadin]

Photos by Dylan Collins, Silvia Boarini and Lazar Simeonov

The family of Al Shour live an almost unimaginable life full of degrading Israeli regulations in the Qalqiliya governate. Their village of Arab Ramadin is namely located in Area C and since the establishment of the wall has been totally isolated. The family lives in exile on their own land.

One of the outcomes of the 1993 Oslo accords was a temporary administrative division of the West Bank into three zones; Areas A, B and C.  Area A is under full civil and security control by the Palestinian authority. This area includes the major Palestinian villages and Israeli citizens are prohibited to enter this area. Area B includes rural communities which are under Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.

Israel has full civil and security control over Area C. This area encompasses approximately 62% of the West Bank. Area C includes all Israeli settlements, land in the vicinity of these settlements, and most roads which connect the settlements as well as strategic areas called 'security zones’. Area C is home to at least 150,000 Palestinians and roughly 320,00 illegal Israeli settlers.

The division of these three zones and the presence of the Apartheid Wall has created extraordinary inhumane situations. In the Qalqilya governate the Israeli authorities makes the ability of leading a normal life impossible, as part of their policy to to make the Palestinians leave and to confiscate more land.

Qalqiliya-Family Photo by Dylan Collins

Totally surrounded by the wall

The towns of Qalqilya and Habla have a population of 46,000 and 7,000 inhabitants respectively and are totally surrounded by the Wall with only one access road. The Wall was illegally built in 2003, encircling the town and separating it from agricultural lands on the other side. Farmers from both Qalqilya and Habla need to pass a checkpoint in order to enter “the seam zone”, a closed military zone to access their fields.

Everybody who wishes to leave and enter this zone needs a valid 'pass-permit’ which is issued by the Israeli Military Authority. Even animals and equipment need a permit to pass the checkpoint. Since 2004 Qalqilya and Habla (located 1,6 km from each other) have been connected via a tunnel, which goes underneath a “settler only road’, from which Palestinians are effectively barred from using. This tunnel avoids a 19km ride around the barrier to reach Qalqilya. However, passage through the tunnel is controlled by the Israeli army.

The enclosure of the Wall is not only infuriating to the inhabitants of Qalqilya and Habla, but affects the communities outside the wall even more.

Approximately 1,200 people in the Palestinian villages of Wadi Rasha, Ras Tira, Daba and Arab Ramadin are isolated between the green line and the Wall, in the so called 'closed military zone’ (see map). Inhabitants of these villages are subject to inhumane regulations. Because these villages are located in Area C, they are under full control of the Israeli authorities. This means that the Palestinian Authority can’t provide any help.

Currently eight communities in the Qalqilya district have no access to health services. Until December 2011, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society provided aid through mobile clinics. However, they are not able to provide this service for the last five months because of the lack of funding. Nevertheless doctors are still able to visit the villages. Furthermore, relief workers are also subject to profound Israeli regulations. Relief workers need to apply monthly for a special permit which is only valid for one area. Even with a valid permit, relief workers are often delayed for two hours at the checkpoint.

Whenever an emergency occurs, inhabitants are dependent on services from the Palestinian Red Crescent in other villages, which takes them a minimal of one hour to get to. When someone decides to try to go to the hospital in Qalqilya on their own it takes often too long due to the delay at the checkpoints, which closes at 10:00 pm for Palestinians. One can imagine that these situations lead to unnesecarry injuries or even deaths.

 Arab Ramadin

The village of Arab Ramadin inhabits 550 Palestinians, divided over 2 families. Al Shour is one of these families. They has been displaced from Be’er Sabe’ in 1948. After they lived in Hebron for a while, the family bought the land in Arab Ramadin in the 1950’s. The construction of the nearby settlement Alfe Menache began in 1982 and in 2003 the Wall was built in order to 'secure’ this illegal settlement. By illegally confiscating this piece of land the Israeli authority isolated the Al Shour family completely (see map).

A soldier once said to one of the family members: “Our job is to mess it up for you so you will leave eventually.”

All inhabitants of Arab Ramadin are in the possession of a West Bank identity card. On the settlers road to reach the nearest checkpoint in order to enter the West Bank, they cannot turn left on this road (instead of right in the direction of the checkpoint) and pass a designated gas station in Israel, otherwise they will be arrested and lose the right to live in Arab Ramadin. Although the family is factually living in Israel, they are prohibited from traveling in Israel, while every Israeli can travel freely through the closed military zone where the family Al Shour is living in.


Al Ramudin Photo by Lazar Simeonov

Every single house in Arab Ramadin has a demolition order and inhabitants are prohibited to build anything. Two houses have been demolished in the last two months. Although the Al Shour family tried to fight their case in court, it seems they have no chance of justice with such a strong biased Israeli legal system.

Only one part of the village has access to running water. The part closest to the settlement, has to fetch water with a tractor near the checkpoint.

The Al Shour family elaborated on the inhumane regulations of the Israeli authority they are subjected to: inhabitants are only allowed to bring 4 kilo of groceries to the village. At the checkpoint, most of the products from yogurt packs to baby powder will be opened for a security check.

Furthermore, if someone brings an open bottle of water, it will be taken for lab tests. Most people have to strip their clothes; even women have been ordered by a male soldier to take of their veil.  Because Arab Ramadin has no school, children have to travel by bus to Qalqilya.

Even though the oldest child on the bus is 10 years old, recently a new policy dictated that they all had to come off from the bus to pass the checkpoint individually. After protests from their parents, soldiers now enter the bus with their guns to check all permits. To leave and enter their land for funerals and marriages, special permission and coordination is needed.

The daily life of the inhabitants of Arab Ramadin is totally controlled and restricted by the Israeli Authority. For them it feels like going from one country to another country every time they pass the checkpoint.

Even traveling to Jordan is much easier, one of the inhabitants said. Although life is immensely difficult for the Al Shour family, they are determined and refuse to give up their struggle for dignity and freedom.



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