We have had another bit of success today in Wadi Rasha. There was no work today and it appears that the reason was the planned demonstration. In the end there were no guards or soldiers anywhere near the rout of the wall and we spent the time hearing about the confusing rout of the wall in that area (below is some history of the struggle against the wall there written by the ISM).
The army plans to uproot trees on Sunday and we were asked to come support the farmers who will resist this. Please let me know if you can make it.
Israel Preparing "Final Solution" to Apartheid Wall Route Controversy
In the Qalqilia Region in the West bank, the Israeli military has decided to rebuild the apartheid wall after Palestinian farmers from the small villages Ad Dab'a, Wadi ar Rasha, Ras at Tira, Arab Alramodin and Arab Abofarda protested the construction of the present wall which separates the villages from the rest of the West Bank Palestinian Territory. Currently residents of those villages require special permits to enter their lands and homes. Friends and relatives from the rest of the occupied West Bank are unable to visit them there.
On Sept 15 2005, the High Court of Israel ruled that the Israeli military must reroute the wall to return these five villages to the Palestinian territories of the West Bank. However, on July 31 2007, the High Court revised its ruling to require the return of only three of the villages to the Palestinian side of the wall, with the villages of Arab Alramodin and Arab Abofarda remaining on the Israeli side. These villages are very close to the Israeli settlement of Alfe Menashe and include lands desired by Israel for the expansion of the settlement. The Israeli authorities are pressing for the removal of the population of those villages and their repatriation elsewhere in the West Bank.
The new wall is going to be constructed in such a way that it will separate the three villages Ras at Tira, Wadi ar Rasha and Ad Dab'a from their agricultural land. With the new wall, the villages themselves will return to the Palestinian side, while their olive fields and agricultural land will stay on the Israeli side. As the majority of the people in these villages are farmers, they will be deprived of their livelihoods by the new route of the wall. The new construction will also do massive damage to the land as a swath of approximately 70 meters wide by five kilometers long will be cleared and bulldozed with the existing trees and vegetation all being uprooted.
The new route proposed by the Israeli military offered the villagers the choice of leaving the old route which effectively annexed all of the five villages to Israel, or having three villages returned to the Palestinian side of the wall, but without their land which would then be annexed to Israel for settlement expansion. The village representatives have declined to accept either option, stating that the only acceptable remedy is for Israel to move its wall back to the internationally recognized border or "Green Line."
Meetings are currently taking place amongst the representatives of the five affected villages who are planning to resist the new construction in every way possible. They have stated that they are ready to protest every day and use any means necessary to prevent the construction of the new route of the apartheid wall.
Israeli surveyors and construction workers have already begun marking the route for the new route of the wall. It appears also that a campaign of intimidation has begun, with Israeli police harassing business and equipment owners and accusing them of theft of machinery from nearby settlements. The ensuing arrests and bail demands seem designed to intimidate the villagers in hopes of preventing organized resistance to the plans for the imposition of an Israeli designed "final solution" to the controversial issue.
Villagers met with legal representatives on Sunday, February 15. The Civilian Administration of the IDF agreed to a one week delay before proceeding with construction while lawyers representing the villages prepare final arguments in their appeal.
On Tuesday February 17, representatives of Ras at Tira, Al Dab'a, and Wadi al Rasha met to discuss their options as presented by the Israeli military. The villagers agreed with the proposed return of their three villages with an area of 3500 dunams to the Palestinian side of the wall, but also demand the return of the remaining 2500 dunams of land which belong to the villages. While the meeting was in progress, the Israeli military began moving bulldozers and other heavy equipment into Wadi al Rasha.
It appears that the Israeli Civilian Administration's agreeing to a one week delay for appeals was at best a token gesture with the outcome already predetermined. At worst it appears that the Israeli authorities may not intend to honor their promise and may be planning to begin their destructive work immediately. The villages' representatives have requested an international presence in their villages to monitor this newest illegal activity of the Israeli government. The villagers have expressed their hopes that international activists and the media will assist them in their struggle and help bring their case to the attention of the world.
On Sept. 15, 2005, the High Court ordered part of the fence dismantled where it enclosed five villages, Arab a-Ramadan, Arab Abu Farde, Wadi a-Rasha, Ja'arat a-Dara and Hirbet Ras a-Tira, with a collective 2,000 residents, inside the barrier with the settlement Alfe Menashe, just south of Qalqilya. At the time, the decision was hailed as a significant, precedent-setting victory. The villagers' lawyer, Michael Sfard, declared, "The High Court has saved five Palestinian villages from utter annihilation, because if the fence had been left in place, they would not have been able to continue to exist"
But on July 31, 2007, the court changed its decision, leaving Arab a-Ramadan and Arab Abu-Farde trapped inside the barrier along with the settlement, according to the Jerusalem Post. These two villages, with a total population of 400, said they would be worse off with the re-routing of the wall, because they are now cut off from the other three villages and the city of Qalqilya. But the court rejected their petition.