Zububa (population about 2,000) is located in the northernmost tip of the Jenin district. At least 70 trees were uprooted to make room for the wall, and in some places the wall is no more than 40 or 50 meters away from the closest house. The village has experienced gradual land confiscation since 1948, and villagers now fear that the rest of their land will be confiscated through the wall. Unemployment is high. As a result of the construction of the wall, villagers face environmental and water contamination.
Mohammad Salih Mohammad Jaradat
This wall affects my house and the entire region. The wall changed the contours of the land, it diverted all the rainwater to our lands, which are lower. The sewage water was diverted to us, too, from the Salem checkpoint. In February, the whole area gets flooded. Our whole house was filled with sewage. The salt in the sewage threatens the house, not to mention the environmental contamination. We have an old village well and a few springs, and all of them have become contaminated. The whole area is affected. When we don’t have access to water from Jenin or when it is cut off, we are forced to drink this contaminated water.
They want to expropriate the lands above us to choke the residents of this village. They dig 190-195 meters into the mountain to create the wall. It’s not possible that they did this just to take 50 meters. They are sending us rainwater and their sewage so that we leave the village. They are just confining us so that they can take our lands away from us. We have appealed for help, but no one is listening.
Before the wall was built, we worked in Israel; it was difficult to get there, but you could use an indirect route. The wall makes it impossible for laborers to make a living in Israel. The adult worker is completely demoralized when his child comes to him in the morning and asks for a shekel, and you can’t even give him that. You can’t pay electricity or water bills. If you have a telephone, the bill is at least 1,000 shekels, and you can’t pay that. And then it gets disconnected. No one can afford the costs. Debts are piling up on people. Even people who work aren’t getting paid. There is no money for salaries.
The wall paralyzed the Palestinian economy, it brought it to a standstill. The West Bank and Jenin in particular are disaster areas.
Shadia Mohammad Salih Jaradat
We live in a swamp, and we have it worse than anyone else, and we are worried about our children. The sewage enters our home while we are sleeping, it seeps under the door when we are unaware. We struggled to build this house, but we can’t live in it in January, February, and March, and our children are unable to go to school. We don’t have access to the schools. There is so much mud.
We lost our vegetable garden, and we had been relying on it and on God; we lost our chickens and pigeons. Thank God our sheep were unaffected, we had help of some good people, and they rescued us. Our neighbors also lost a lot. We brought two truckloads of sand and dumped them in front of our house, each truckload cost 1,000 shekels. Four days later the flood came and swept it all away.
We were told that we could go to the president [Arafat] to tell him what happened and get some help. How are we supposed to get to the president? You see what the roads are like, and it costs 200 shekels per person. And you can’t make a round trip in the same day.
We had a 40-dunum plot, it had 500 olive trees on it, and that was supporting us. The Israelis confiscated the land and built a military base on it. That was 8 years ago. We had another piece, about 30 dunums. During the second intifada, they confiscated another 10 dunums, and they are slowly taking it over. Yesterday they sent us notice that they would be cutting down 10 big olive trees. They are digging in it, whether a well or for sewage, we don’t know. My husband is 60 years old. When he hears this, he goes nuts. He says, we have no recourse, no one cares what happens to us, we are a lost people. To whom can we appeal? There is no one. For the last 3 years, he hasn’t worked, not a single agora. He has to support 7 girls and 2 boys and 3 sisters.
They opened their sewage (probably in our land), either it was full or they directed it to us, we don’t know. The smell was stupefying, and the area was so full of flies and mosquitos you couldn’t sit outside at night. Also cockroaches and frogs. We couldn’t use the spring water because it has been contaminated. They use every means at their disposal to harm us. The village was surrounded by 4 fences, we can’t go anywhere, and we hear that one of them is going to be electric.
When we learned that they would confiscate our land, I wanted to do something about it. But my husband said, we are a single family, what can we do? They’ll shoot us. We don’t dare go to our confiscated property. It hasn’t even been plowed, but we are afraid we’d be shot if we go there.
Once there was a curfew and my children were in the backyard. I told them to come indoors so that the soldiers wouldn’t bother them. They said, but we aren’t even outside. The army came by and started shooting. One of the girls hid inside. They came after her and asked for her, we said, she’s inside praying. [In fact, it was her sister who was hiding inside.] I said, and if she wants to sit outside, why is that a problem for you? I argued with him, and he threatened to shoot me. He pulled her away from me and hit her. For about 3 hours the soldiers were inside the house and this was going on and my legs were shaking.
It just isn’t safe for us to walk out the front door. They are never out of town, they come day and night. They create disturbances. They say filthy things on the loudspeakers, calling us whores. They come by early in the mornings, on school days, and announce curfews right before the kids leave for school. So they miss school that day. When kids are on their way home from school, the army is following them.
Now we make some income shelling nuts, about 100 shekels for 4 days work. Our fingers have been wasted. We do anything we can. I would really like to start my own project, barracks, get some goats, something. But there is no money to get started.
The Palestinian people are lost. Our homes are destroyed, the best young men are gone or imprisoned. What’s left?
About 950 trees were uprooted and 250 dunums belonging to al-Taybeh (population about 2,100) were destroyed when the wall was built, and about 250 dunums became inaccessible, for a total of 10% of village lands that were lost to the wall. Villagers no longer have access to the public services they once received from neighboring towns. An additional 25-meter-wide barbed wire barrier built around Al-Taybey, referred to as a “depth barrier,” further impedes Palestinian movement.
Ribhia Asaad Dahood Ighbariyaa
Last July , the Israeli army started to dig up a street next to our house. I have about 30 dunums that they confiscated. They didn’t send notification, we found out when we went to our property to pick the olives. Israeli guards were hiding under the trees. There was some shooting above our heads, and we didn’t know where it was coming from. So we ran away and sat under some trees. We were afraid. We went back a second time and told them, we want to pick our olives, and they said, you can’t, you don’t have property here, this belongs to Im al-Fahm. We said, no, it is ours. They said, what is here, and I said, this is the grave of my husband, and this is my father-in-law, and this is my brother-in-law. And there is a child buried there. They said, you have to remove them; we want to make a road here. I said, what law says that we have to remove them? They have been dead for 14 years; you took our property, you took our homes, you took everything. Do you have to take our graves?
For about a month, I went everywhere I could think of to get some help. Then they called my son at work. Again the Israelis called me and said, you have to remove the graves.
I found some people who agreed to remove the graves. When they opened the graves, my husband still had his hair and he still had skin covering his face and hands, even after being dead for 14 years. And that’s because he was a martyr. We reburied them in the Taybe cemetery.
They started to plow through the top of the mountain. Our house is in the mountain, and they kept digging and dumping the dirt on my house. We could only enter our home through the back door. They used dynamite 4 or 5 times right above the house without warning. My kids told me, our house is cracking.
When it rained, there was nothing left as a buffer with the mountain. We stayed another month or two in the house in the rainy season. Some men asked me, aren’t you afraid to stay in it? I said, Where can I find a place for me and my children? Members of the town council [learned of my predicament] and came to me at night, at about 10 or 10:30. I was making dough and baking bread. The kids were around me, having dinner. Haj Khalid said, you have to leave this house. Don’t you see [how bad it is]? He started to examine it. I said, every night I move the kids to a different room [whatever seems safest]. That night they were in the kitchen. All the other rooms were leaking. He said, just take your mattresses so you can sleep the night, and in the morning God will provide. At that time I thought the move would be temporary. A month or so, until the weather improved. They said, you can stay in the school. We came here, to this school, at about midnight. It was winter, and cold and rainy. It was dirty, and it took us hours to clean the place up so we could put our things.
In the morning, I really couldn’t get up. My legs were killing me. My 19-year-old son freaked out. I told him, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but my legs won’t support me. I saw a doctor who thought it was nerves and being upset by what happened. Mainly I was most upset about the graves. In the Muslim faith it is a sin to move the dead.
My 3 daughters and two sons and I have been in this school for 8 months now. School starts Sept. 1, and now they tell us they want the school. I said, where am I supposed to go?
What more can I tell you? I have no one to protect me other than God. I don’t know what to do. Life is very difficult, and there aren’t many options. My brothers are all unemployed, and all of them have families.
Nothing beautiful is left in this world. I lost my home, my husband, and my land. There is nothing left that is beautiful in the whole world.
Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who works as a technical writer in Boulder, CO. She went to the West Bank in August for three weeks to visit family and to learn more about the effect of the wall on the lives of ordinary people. She is the author of “Picking Olives and Removing Roadblocks as Acts of Resistance: An Interview with Ghassan Andoni” Counterpunch, 28 October 2002 and “Narratives of Siege: Eyewitness Testimonies from Jenin, Bethlehem, and Nablus,” Journal of Palestine Studies, no. 124 (Summer 2002).