Community Voices

Wafa is 25 years old and a teacher in the elementary school in Shuqba village. She tells the story about what happened when the bulldozers came to clear the land for the Wall’s path in Budrus.




***image1***My land is located in an area were many peoples lands where confiscated in 1993. During that year I was in prison, and when I was released in 1994 I gave all my time to protect my land from any further attempts to confiscate more. The Occupation forces tried different ways to prevent us from reaching our lands, they would shoot at us while we were heading to the land, or while working in it. Nevertheless we resisted and continued to go to our lands and plant our fields.




***image3***When somebody watches a tragic film for the first time, he feels surprised and sad, and when he watches the same film for the second time, he becomes less surprised and so on. However, the wall tragedy is a live one, its actions renewed daily, its pains and tears are real ones. In more than one and a half years watching the impacts of the wall, every time I visit a new location, or even the same location, I notice new horrible actions took place, as if I see or hear the story of the wall for the first time.

Mitri Ghounam's land can be accessed only via a metal gate and fenced off road. The house is surrounded on three sides by either a concrete wall or a metal fence. Beyond the fence there appears to be a construction site. Although the machinery is quiet today because works are stopped for the weekend, one can only imagine the noise that must come from it during the rest of the week.




Wafa is 25 years old and a teacher in the elementary school in Shuqba village. She tells the story about what happened when the bulldozers came to clear the land for the Wall’s path in Budrus.




In September, when construction for the Apartheid Wall began in Abu Dis, people living closest to the area of destruction for the Wall continuously resisted its ravaging work. The women and there children from three homes would arrive to the lands being confiscated each day and try to stop the bulldozers, sitting in front of the machines’ unyielding path. After the first time, the Occupation soldiers surrounded their homes in order to prevent the people from reaching their land.

The following is a portion of a presentation/testimony given by Sharif Omar Khaled (Abu Azzam) at the symposium co-organized by PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign at The Hague on Saturday, February 21. The symposium, also referred to as the Popular Hearing, sought to provide a platform at The Hague for affected communities to make their struggle known worldwide.







For the past year, Mohammed Ameera managed to evade Occupation forces. Soldiers raided his home more than a dozen times in failed attempts to arrest him and his brother. The last time they did so, one of the commanders promised his mother that if her sons did not turn themselves in they would be killed at the demonstration. Ahmad’s mother has already lost her husband and did not want to lose her sons as well, and Mohammed decided to turn himself in.


Since protests started nearly a year and a half ago, more than 70 people have been arrested in Ni’lin. Those targeted in Ni’lin tend to be young men in their twenties, as well as children and juveniles. Currently, five remain in Ofer prison without charges.



***image1*** Name: Moath Fihmi Srour

Age: 24

Education: B.S. in Information Technology

Date of arrest: March 15, 2009

Time in prison: 221 days










***image1***Humiliation characterizes the Palestinian experience at checkpoints, an experience that is especially acute for communities between the Wall and Green Line. These communities, whose movement in and out of their isolated villages is under the total control of several checkpoints, must navigate them daily in order to go to school, visit a hospital, or visit family members living outside the enclave.




On May 1, people from al-Ma’sara and the neighboring villages in Bethlehem area commemorated Workers' Day with a march protesting the Apartheid Wall. Soldiers fired on the demonstration and arrested ‘Azmi Sheukhi from Hebron, Mustafa Fawagreh from Um Salamuna and Muhammed Brajiya, Mahmoud Zawahreh, Hasan Brajiya, all members of the popular committee in al-Ma’sara.




The Council on Ethics

Norwegian Government Pension Fund

Government of Norway





Cc:

Kristin Halvorsen, Minister of Finance

The Office of the Prime Minister

Henriette Westhrin, Deputy Minister

Roger Sandum, Deputy Minister

Geir Axelsen, Deputy Minister

Roger Schjerva, Deputy Minister

Ole Morten Geving, Deputy Minister

















Dear Members of the Council on Ethics,







The Wall has had a devastating effect on the 4,000 residents of Jayyus, separating the farmers from 75 percent of their agricultural land. This is a major disaster for those who cultivate seasonal fruit and vegetables, which require continual tending. The placement of entry gates (which remain locked almost around the clock) means that access to their farmlands is determined by whoever controls the gate keys.



Mazooz Qaddumi, who works in the village's municipality office for citizen complaints, described some of the problems faced by its residents.






A lot of anxiety and worry hovers over the lives of the people of Silwan in the Bustan neighborhood. This emotional strain is the consequence of the occupied municipality's plan in Jerusalem (Plan E/J/9) which calls for the demolishing of 88 buildings housing 115 families. Simply, this will make around 1500 Jerusalemites homeless; the number includes women, babies, and elderly people. All will lose houses they inherited from their parents and grandparents, most of which have been built before the Israeli state came to existence.




Recently, Occupation forces have been using live bullets against youth at weekly demonstrations. A large number of people have suffered leg wounds from a particular type of bullet fired by snipers often using silenced weapons.




The fertile Jordan Valley has long been a target of the Occupation’s colonial aims. Due to its abundance of water resources, rich soil, and natural minerals, the Valley has been the site of extensive land confiscation and expulsion of Palestinian residents, especially since the signing of the Oslo Agreement. Oslo severely restricted the Palestinians’ capacity for growth in the region, and effectively opened the door for increased military occupation and settlement expansion that is aimed at eventually eliminating the Palestinian presence in the Jordan Valley.

***image2***October is the month of the olive harvest for Palestinians, and it is an extremely important time culturally, socially, and economically. The harvest has gained political significance, since it has become a symbol of strength and solidarity in the face of rising settler attacks, increasing land confiscation, and destruction of farmland. This year, 106 villages across the West Bank have been identified as being under threat from the Occupation, but farmers still refuse to be forced off of their lands, and they continue the harvest despite the violence and abuse that they face.

Zakariya is located south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank and is now completely surrounded by the Gush Ezion settlement bloc. There are only 58 buildings in Khirbet Zakariyya, 18 of which were built after the Occupation extended its grip to the West Bank in ’67. Since then, the Occupation forbids the villagers to construct any new buildings but as the population grew they built simple constructions of rough cement and zinc roofs to house families and basic services. All of those 18 buildings are now under demolition order, including one school and the clinic inside it.




Bir Nabala is one of Jerusalem’s many Palestinian neighborhoods isolated from the rest of the city by massive sections of the eight-meter high concrete Wall. Bir Nabala was once a bustling commercial center, linking the people of northern West Bank cities such and Jenin and Tulkarm with the greater Jerusalem metropolis. Because of the neighborhood’s strategic location, many Palestinians depended on more than 600 businesses and shops as well as six tire factories to maintain their livelihoods. The shops now number less than 180 and only two tire factories remain.

***image2***Ahmad Muwafaq Saleh Qabaha



Ahmad, 17, of West Toura, to the west of Jenin, is disabled. He has motor problems affecting half of his body and severe learning difficulties. He relies on his parents for most of his personal needs.



In May 2004 at around midnight, Ahmad and his family were woken by a heavy banging at the door and loud voices shouting,

“Open the door – it’s soldiers”









Osama ‘Amad Suleiman Hazahaza is seven years old and lives in the village of Far’un, south of Tulkarm. What is happening today to Osama’s family is sadly similar to the experiences of his grandfather, Hajj Suleiman, who was forcefully expelled from his home in the village of Qalansuwa in 1948 by armed Zionist gangs. Now, 60 years on, Osama too faces the threat of expulsion from his home. The Occupation has called for the demolition of his family home, ostensibly because it lacks the proper permit.




We, the people of Jayyous in occupied Palestine, denounce the Israeli businessman Mr. Lev Leviev and his criminal and colonial destruction of our lands and livelihoods.



***image2***Leviev's money and investments are destroying the olive groves that have sustained our village for centuries. Many of our families are barred by the occupation forces from working our own lands that have been stolen by the Apartheid Wall for the "Zufim" settlement. Mr. Leviev has heavily invested in this settlement and as such is funding the continuing dispossession of our people in Jayyous.






40-year-old Sameera Surour was sitting on a wooden chair across from the intensive care unit on the first floor of the Ramallah Public Hospital, waiting in silence for word on her husband’s condition. I had not previously met Sameera, but I distinguished her from the other women sitting on those wooden chairs.




***image3***Twelve year-old Hamaam Ismael sits down leaning against a massive tree that died after it was uprooted by an Israeli bulldozer to prepare the land for the footprint of the Apartheid Wall. The young boy wonders about his and his family’s future.




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