Ciarab's Blog

April 24, 2010, 11:13 am
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Qalqiliya, North West Bank (April, 2010).

“ . . . you start to think you are not like the others . . .” (Mohammad Selim, 2010)

Qalqiliya City which has been completely surrounded by the Wall leaving local people no access to land, restrictions on travel and trapped in a bottleneck.

Qalqiliya City which has been completely surrounded by the Wall leaving local people no access to land, restrictions on travel and trapped in a bottleneck.

Qalqiliya, in the Northern West Bank located along the Green Line is a city that has been severely affected by the building of the Apartheid Wall. This city is less than 20 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea to which most Palestinians are denied access. The population is 45-50,000 people according to Rafiq Marabi a member of the National Committee for Grassroots Resistence who took three norwegins, Marie, Gjermund and Lars and myself around Qalqiliya to witness the effects of the wall surrounding Qalqiliya. Not until you visit this place or see the city on a map do you realise the extent of the illegal wall which surrounds the city on three sides and isolates seven communities between the Barrier and the Green Line which completely violates International law. There are only two entrances into Qalqiliya town, and there are three tunnels. According to UNOCHA (2009) ‘the route is extremely intrusive, physically joining a large number of settlements to Israel and isolating some of the most productive agricultural land and water resources in the West Bank’ (UNOCHA, 2009). There are 18 wells in Qalqiliya and therefore this is one of the main reasons that there are so many settlements in this area.

Here you can see the Green Line which was the border established by the Armistice Line in 1949, and from the picture you can see that purple areas built beyond green line are completely in violation of International Law.

In 1948 over 60% of Qalqiliya was annexed to Israel and since then more has been confiscated. After 1967, 18,000 more dunums were confiscated and Zufin and Ale Menashe settlements were built between 1982 and 1987.

In 2002, Israel began building the wall around Qalqiliya which resulted in the illegal confiscation of more land which was mainly used for agriculture, providing a livelihood and income for many families. The situation now is that 6,500 dunums of Qalqiliya (each dunum is equivalent to about .25 or an acre or 1000 square metres) is under buildings and 2,500 dunums is the  space between the wall and the city. The wall surrounding Qalqiliya is three kilometres in length. Some of the most productive land is behind the Barrier, thus cutting off farmers and their families from their only form of livelihood. The Barrier prevents them accessing their farms, thus preventing cultivation and according to an old Ottoman law, if land is not cultivated within a three year period or left idle, the Israeli government are entitled to confiscate this land (again completely illegal). However, because of the Barrier, farmers cannot access their land, which ultimately leads to the Israeli government stealing this land and is completely illegal.

Areas in purple are the illegal settlements built within the West Bank which has created a bottleneck and restricts access of Palestinians to their land on the other side of barrier.

Settlers in Qedumin, in the North of the finger protested against the building of the wall, however not out of their goodness of their hearts, but claimed that all surrounding land belongs to them.

The effects of the wall are clearly visible as you drive through the streets of Qalqiliya. Shops are open but not busy, people with stalls are waiting for their next customer, the town is dilapidated. According to one man ‘we are not allowed to build factories to help our people to get work . . . the wall takes many areas . . . we look for an industrial zone’. Another commented that ‘agriculture and the economy are destroyed and these are the effects of the wall’. One student commented that ‘business men are afraid . . . we can’s support our economy . . . we can’t do it here’. Every day four to five people come to Fatah asking for work. The authority in Qalqiliya employs 37 people and cannot employ any more.

One entrance into Israel, allows over 2000 Palestinian people every day to enter in order to go to work. However, people start arriving from midnight and must wait until the gates are open at four. People arrive so early in order to avoid queues.

Beginning of checkpoint which Palestinians must go through to enter Israel.

Barriers erected for security reasons!

Whilst I was taking this photo Rafiq noticed a difference that Arabic sign did not translate the same as the English sign!

Any object such as keys, jewellery, butter knife or anything made from metal is regarded a security threat.

People queue here for up to four hours to go to work everyday.

Here the wall encloses an area and sometimes this area may isolate one palestinian house, where their previous neighbours are on the other side, limiting visits and restricting access to their land.

Another inportant point I would like to make is that because of restrictions on Palestinian goods being exported this leaves no room for investment or returns on locally produced products, therefore some Palestinians have no choice but to cross checkpoints to gain employment and earn money to provide for their families. According to Rafiq “The Israeli’s are killing the ability to make peace in this area – in Palestine”.

Part of the illegal barrier which surrounds Qalqiliya. Here the wall reaches more than 8 metres

With thanks to Mohammad Selim who works with refugees in the West Bank; Rafiq Marabi from the National Committee for Grassroots Resistance and Rabeeh Khandaqji, Governer of Qalqiliya Governate, Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Palestinian National Authority.

Marie, myself, Governer of Qalqiliya, Gjermund and Mohammad at the governers office.


1 Comment so far
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Wow Ciara this is really great. Fascinating reading. Well done, it’s so well written! x

Comment by Laurel

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