Location: lands in western 'Azzun 'Atma, located behind the Racist Israeli Wall and near Oranit settlement.
Violation: burning of 50 dunums of land planted with more than 100 olive trees.
Date: August 9th , 2009.
Violators: settlers from Oranit.
Victim: Abdul Kareem Mustapha Salama from 'Azzun 'Atma.
On August 9th, 2009, settlers from Oranit, southern Qalqiliya, started a fire in lands in 'Azzun 'Atma near Oranit. The fire spread in an area called Khallet Issa causing the burning of more than 100 olive trees that belonged to Abdul Kareem Mustapha Salama (46 years old) who depends on farming in making a living.
It must be pointed out that Khallet Issa used to be used for Green Houses beside olive trees planting. Many people used to benefit from planting there until movement in the area became very difficult after the construction of a new part of the Racist Wall. The Wall along with the settlements of Betkve, Oranit, Ez'vraim, and Alqana surround the village from its four sides and Khallit Issa became isolated which made access to the area very limited.
As said previously, residents of 'Azzun 'Atma have limited access to Khirbit Issa. The locals need to acquire special permits from the 'Israeli Civil Administration' so as to be able to pass through the only gate in that area. That made Khirbit Issa inaccessible most of the time and, subsequently, made it an open field for the settlers living in nearby settlements to act the way they like in the area. Such actions included plowing, burning, uprooting, etc. without anyone stopping them. In addition, the settlers used the land to build a road network around Oranit while placing a number of RVs in the area. Due to that, the Israeli occupation army considers the area as a 'military zone', creating more obstacles against Palestinians movement.
Oranit Expands on Palestinian Lands:
Oranit was established in 1983 atop lands expropriated from the Palestinian villages of 'Azzun 'Atma and 'Izbat Salman. The residential area in the settlement is 1134 dunums in area, 1107 of them belonged to people from 'Azzun 'Atma. 6316 settlers live in Oranit.
'Azzun 'Atma Villager’s Agony:
The Racist Isolation turned the life of villagers into a 'living hell'!
The Wall which surrounds 'Azzun 'Atma from all sides made the lives of its 1783 residents of 'Azzun 'Atma unbearable. It has only one exit that turned the village into a big prison. The only exit that the locals may use is a gate north of 'Azzun 'Atma.
Due to the suffering the people face whenever they try to pass through the gate (because of the searching and the different 'security measures' acted upon them by the Israeli occupation soldiers), the locals named the gate 'the death gate'.
In 2006, a resident of 'Azzun 'Atma died while waiting to pass through the gate. The resident who needed instant treatment after having a car accident died at the checkpoint. Sadly, all his blood was spelt before having the chance to pass.
Before the completion of the Racist Wall, people of 'Azzun 'Atma used to take the wounded or the ill town folks to nearby towns inside 'Israel'. It will be impossible to do so nowadays. Moreover, the gate closes from 12 AM to 5 AM everyday; people cannot pass through the gate even in times of emergency at those times.
Isolation of thousands of Dunums Behind the Racist Wall:
The newly-constructed part of the Wall rendered hundreds of Dunums isolated; According to the village council, 1800 dunums of the lands of 'Azzun 'Atma and Sanniniya which were used for olive planting and glasshouses alongside 1100 dunums of olive trees near the villages of Mas-ha and Az Zawiya and 800 dunums of glasshouses near Kufur Qasem 'within the green line'. All of these and other different parts were confiscated for the sake of Oranit settlement.
What makes it worse is that people of 'Azzun 'Atma and nearby villages are required to obtain special permits to get to their lands behind the Wall. These permits are different than the ones designed to get out of 'Azzun 'Atma. This will lead to a disastrous olive picking season.
Here, it must be pointed out that the isolated lands, especially the ones used for Green Houses, are considered the only source of income for many of 'Azzun 'Atma villagers. Isolating these lands deprives many families from their income which will cause instability and insecurity among villagers. Soon after the construction of the last part of the Wall, the Israeli occupation forces sometimes prevent the farmers from passing through to their farms, complicate the movement of crops and sometimes prevent it. These actions will cause huge damage to the farming of the isolated lands.
75 people isolated behind the wall:
The construction of the Racist Isolation Wall desolated 9 Palestinian houses where 75 Palestinians live. Since 2000, these people could not use cars or even horse wagons for transportation; they have their legs to move and hands to carry goods for at least 200 meters.
Since the completion of its construction, Israeli occupation forces have complicated matters related to movement of these despaired people. It also limited the types of goods that these people are allowed to carry to their homes. Not to mention the harassments and attacks that these people face on daily manner making their lives miserable.
'Azzun 'Atma residents are worried about imposing extra limitations on traveling in and out of the village which is completely isolated from its Palestinian surrounding. Propositions were made by the Israeli Occupation Authorities suggesting issuing residency permits for the locals which would allow them to pass through the gate of the village. Such suggestion, if implemented, will be having terrible negative effects on the locals, especially when we take into consideration that people residing in the neighboring villages of Siniriya and Beit Amin are originally from 'Azzun 'Atma and many social relations connect them to each other. In case this suggestion was put into action, it will make it more difficult to maintain such social connections.
The Israeli Occupation Authorities are also considering issuing visiting permits issued for people from outside 'Azzun 'Atma and wish to visit the village.
'Azzun 'Atma is located 8.5 km to the south east of Qalqiliya. It is also 3 km away from the 'Green Line'. Its total area is about 8081 dunum in which 268.5 are considered residential areas populated by 1771 Palestinians. The Racist Wall has taken over 7384 dunums of its total area. See Map 1
For further information on 'Azzun 'Atma, refer to case studies made previously by LRC 2009: