“The Israelis made a fence around the settlement, then they put in a small gate so we could get to our olive trees. They gave us the key and let us come and go for the first year. Then they changed the lock and put a guard on. But he doesn’t come on the Sabbath and holidays and when he is sick. Then one day he doesn’t come at all and you can’t get to your land. Then they declare you are not working on your land and seize it.” – Abdul Karim Ahmad, Palestinian Farmer1
Israel wants Palestinian land but it doesn’t want the Palestinian people. Consequently, the Wall is part of a strategy to annex large parts of Occupied Palestinian Territory while caging in large Palestinian population centers. Once complete, the indigenous Palestinian population will be restricted to reservations constituting less than 13% of historic Palestine while illegal Israeli settlers will be able to freely travel throughout Occupied Palestinian Territory.
If the Wall were truly about security, the Wall would have been built on Israel’s 1967 pre-occupation border (the “Green Line”). However, the Wall is not being built on the Green Line, but rather well within Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Case of Daba – Palestinians Trapped between the Wall and the Green Line
Daba is located in the governorate of Qalqilya and has a population of approximately 300 Palestinians.
There are 40 homes, two schools and a mosque situated on the town’s 2,000 dunums2 of land. The village children attend Daba’s schools until the 7th grade, the school in the neighboring village of Ras Atiya until the 10th grade and the school in the neighboring town of Habla for the 11th and 12th grades.
There are no hospitals in the village and consequently, Daba residents rely on medical facilities located in Qalqilya.
The residents of Daba are largely dependent upon agricultural produce, namely citrus and olive production.
In 1983, Israel confiscated approximately 125 dunums of Daba’s land for the construction of the illegal Israeli colony of Alfe Menashe. The colony’s residents enjoy running water and electricity, while the Palestinian residents of Daba rely upon water shipments and electricity generators.
Effects of the Wall on Daba
The Israeli Army has constructed a militarily-fortified barrier 40 meters away from the homes in Daba. The residents of Daba, like those in 15 other communities, are trapped west of the Wall, while their farmlands are east of the Wall.
Construction of the Wall has involved the use of explosives, and, owing to the immediate proximity of the blasting, has damaged 15 homes and the village school.
Approximately 250 dunums (more than 10% of the village land) have been confiscated for construction of the Wall.
The erection of the Wall has resulted in the physical separation of Daba’s residents from 1,200 dunums of their agricultural land and primary source of income. Since the “agricultural gates” (which Israel claims were meant to facilitate Palestinian farmers’ access to their land) Daba farmers travel up to 15 kilometers to reach their fields, if they are permitted to leave the village at all.
Both entrances to the village are now closed. After a peaceful demonstration on August 15, 2003, the Israeli Army refused to open the gates for four days. The Israeli Army has refused to open the gates for up to a week at a time.
Water trucks that currently provide the only source of drinking water for the village’s residents are subject to the whim of the Israeli Army – they may only enter the village through the “agricultural gates.” Although the Israeli Army claims that the gates are open 3 times per day, but the gates have remain closed for up to a week at a time.
On October 2, 2003, the area was designated a “closed military zone.” Residents of Daba must now apply for permits to live in their homes. Those who work or wish to visit Daba are required to apply to the Israeli Army for a permit to enter the area. Permits must be renewed and there is no guarantee that the permits will be granted or honored by the Israeli Army. These regulations are only in place for Palestinians: according to the military order, permits are not required for Israeli citizens, permanent residents or anyone who is eligible for Israeli citizenship (i.e. anyone who is Jewish).
Israel has already announced that it intends to use the area to build additional colonies, namely Karni’el and Elonit, and to expand the existing illegal Israeli colony of Alfe Menashe. On January 26, 2003, a military order to confiscate land for a new 22 meter wide road in the area was issued. It is assumed that the new road currently under construction will be for the benefit of settlers in Karne Shomron.
1. Chris McGreal, Villagers Fear Being Forced Out by Being Locked In, The Guardian (UK), May 14, 2003.