Yesterday at 4 pm, the Occupation Forces closed the Ras Rummana and Qaffin gates leading to Baqa ash Sharqiyya and Nazlat âIsaâtwo villages isolated between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line. About 150 military jeeps surrounded the area and prevented some 500 people from returning to their communities on opposite sides of the Wall. The people were forced to wait in the cold until the Occupation Forces decided to open the gates at about 9p.m at night. It was not until 11pm that all the people were able to go back to their homes after passing through the Wallâs gates. This was the first time that the gates were closed for a period of this length, besides the âusualâ harassment, where such a large number of people were locked out on either side.
***image3***Even when the gates are âopenâ, there are endless difficulties for people wishing to passâa clear message to residents that continuing to live on their land by the Wall will mean daily torment. One measure which began at the beginning of December 2003 and continues today is the prevention of all women from crossing at the Ras Rummana gate. They are forced instead to travel further north to the Qaffin gate where they are body- searched by a female solider; if there are no female soldiers then the women are not permitted to cross.
Additionally, the Occupation Forces have been prohibiting all products from the West Bank to enter the isolated areas by vehiclesâpeople are forced to take whatever they can carry by foot. This means that large quantities of supplies, from food to cleaning products, are not able to reach the villages. The soldiers then examine each item piece by piece which typically results in massive losses for the people as the soldiers rummage through and open or dump all goods. The people from Baqa ash Sharqiyya and Nazlat âIsa say this has lead to a dramatic rise in price of goods because of the cost of transport, while at the same time, the people are unable to afford Israeli good as the prices are too expensive.
The Occupation Forces have now completed a second Wall, running west of Baqa ash Sharqiyya and Nazlat âIsa, which completely imprisons the communities into a walled-in ghetto.