Construction of the Apartheid Wall in the Jenin/Tubas area of northeastern West Bank is moving forward, as trees are being uprooted, lands are being cleared and communities are being terrorized at ever-increasing rates.
***image2***Al Mutilla is a quiet Palestinian village on the top of a mountain overlooking the fields of Tubas, the Jordan Valley and Bissan. Located about 15 km east of Jenin, it suffered intensive land confiscation in 1948, when large areas of its lands were Occupied and turned to bushes and forests, while other parts were used for Israeli military training camps. The 300 people living in Al Mutilla, primarily farmers and animal breeders, have worked for years in cultivating the land, planting trees and creating beautiful rock terraces that run through the hills. Since October, the Occupation machines have been leveling the land and aggressively uprooting olive, almond and carob trees that have been there for hundreds of years to make way for the northeastern portion of the Apartheid Wall that will rip through the Jordan Valley.
No military orders for the massive land confiscation that has already occurred have ever been issued, as is the case for far too many villages before. Nonetheless, last week, the Occupation machines started working in the south of the village, one km deep within the “green line”; the Wall in this area will extend around the village of Raba, 8 km inside the West Bank. This land grab will enable Israel to seize control of the Shubat Valley, known for its depth as well as its historical significance. The Wall will annex the valley to Bisaan in the Jordan Valley, in addition to Assalmiya Mountain, which is 800 meters high and overlooks Qabatiya, the Jordan Valley, the fields in Tubas and other large areas of vegetation.
On a daily basis now, the agricultural lands, trees, terraces and hundreds of plants in this area are being razed by the Occupation Forces. In the process of leveling the land, the Forces have also blown up age-old Roman gathering wells. Not only are the locust trees being uprooted, but they are also marked and transferred into the Israeli colonies to be sold. In addition, the Israeli Occupation machines are also confiscating and transferring the black soil of this area, rich with organic material, and flower bulbs to be sold inside the 1948 lines, in order to profit off of the stolen Palestinian resources. Even now, the people of Al Mutilla don’t know the true fate of their hundreds of olive trees that have been violently uprooted. Further, due to the fact that the Occupation Forces fail to distribute the (illegal) confiscation orders, the devastation to come is unknown until the time that the bulldozers and Occupation machines come. To this point, 200 dunums* of land have been destroyed, more than 1200 olive trees were uprooted and 450 dunums have been isolated behind the Wall â and the work and bulldozing of the land is still going on. The Apartheid Wall in this area is projected to surround the village. If it continues in this way, it will isolate the village from its grazing fields, essential for livestock and breeding, thereby confiscating the other source of sustenance for many people in the community.
Adding to the devastation, the Occupation Military have been imposing curfew on Al Mutilla from time to time in order to continue planting land mines that will break up the solid earth on which the Wall will be built. The Occupation Forces are forcefully denying the villagers access to their lands near the Wall and are patrolling the area at all times to protect the Occupation machines and the contractors. Many young people children, and shepherds have been beaten while trying to reach their lands located in the areas that the military forces are occupying and confiscating. As the bulldozing gets ever-closer to the homes within the village, the people in Al Mutilla must endure increasing military activity in the shadow of their lands and their livelihood being devastated in the Apartheid Wall’s path.
*1 dunum = 1/4 acre = 1,000 square meters