Damian Clarke's Update From Palestine(7)
Damian Clarke is a 31 year old from Miramar in Wellington, NZ and is currently in Palestine under training with the International Solidarity Movement - a group of internationalists campaigning for peace in the Middle East. Damian is writing to Scoop regularly about his experiences.
Today I visited a town near Budrus called Nillin. Nillin is a town which should have a population of 14,000 people, but only has 4,000. About 10,000 of the towns population have been living in exile in other countries since 1967.
Nillin has a problem. There is an Israeli settlement that has been built partly on their land. The settlement is on some nearby hilltops and straddles the green line which marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. Now there are plans to build the apartheid wall between this settlement and Nillin. Nillin stands to lose between 1,000 and 2,000 acres of land as a result depending on a final court decision on the route of the wall. Either way there will be people in Nillin who lose all of their olive groves and their livelihoods when the wall is built.
I went into the olive groves to see the considerable tract of land that Nillin stands to lose because of the wall. Olive trees on the planned path of the wall are daubed with red and white paint. They will be cut down or uprooted before construction. Sometimes trees are uprooted and planted elsewhere inside Israeli territory.
When the wall is built around Nillin the people may still be able to access their olive groves through a gate if they spend about NZ$10 to apply for a permit. In other areas where the wall is already completed people are finding that they have to apply several times before they are granted the permit.
The permit states that access to the land does not imply ownership of the land. I can see in years to come the Israeli government will use these permits against the Palestinians. By using the permits the Israeli government may in future argue that the Palestinians don't view the land as theirs. If the Palestinians refuse to use the permits in protest then they simply aren't allowed access to their land.
A man from Budrus is getting married tomorrow. Myself and some other ISM people went to a party to celebrate. Men and women sat separately and watched the young men and boys dancing on a dancefloor that had been laid outside for the occasion. There was a troupe of dancers who performed for us. They wore blue satin tops with yellow lining and palestinian colours around their waists. The groom was the focus of attention here. His fiancee is in Nillin having a henna party with women only. I got a fright when the fireworks went off unexpectedly. Too many soundbombs have given me the jitters a bit.
ciao for now