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Reports From the Brighton Group - Land confiscation in Atoof

Andy Shaw | 28.10.2008 22:53 | Campaign against Carmel-Agrexco | Anti-militarism | Palestine | South Coast | World

This is part of a series of blogs from delegation of eight people from Brighton who arrived in the Tubas region of occupied Palestine last week. The delegation is part of the project by the Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group. The group's aims are to highlight Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the region, raise awareness about life under occupation and create practical solidarity links between grassroots organisations in Brighton and Tubas region.

This is an excerpt from Andy Shaw's blog

On Wednesday 22nd Oct the delegation had its first encounter with the Israeli Offence Force (IOF) on the edge of a village called Atoof in the north of the Jordan Valley. We were stopped, detained and told that we had entered ‘forbidden’ land. The soldiers asked us our reasons for being there, told us our Palestinian friends were ‘dangerous’ and that it was merely their duty to protect us. Our reason for being there: we were being shown a huge trench that had been dug by the Israelis to separate 97,000 Dunums of land from the farmers in the village and make a rather generous donation to the three illegal Israeli settlements a little further down the valley.

The trench is 5 metres wide, 3 metres deep and 3 km long with a huge earth mound on the opposing side to that of the village. It spans the entire valley, mountain to mountain and looms darkly into the serene surroundings. Its purpose is to create a physical barrier between the village, to whom the land belongs, and the settlements which were constantly expanding.

After being released by the soldiers we were taken to a meeting with some of the men from the village who began to answer our many questions. I will try and outline the situation that the village has been put into by the occupation to the best of my ability.

The first parts of the settlements were constructed in 1971, only four years after the six day war, and have been constantly expanding ever since. The trench, just 2 km from the village, was dug five years ago and it is believed that the army will build a fence at the ditch to make it completely impassable. There is a tarmac road from the village to the trench, and tyre marks over the mound where it ends. However, only the IOF are able to use this road, and under constant surveillance the Palestinians can never breach this petty regulation to reach the land they are still permitted to farm.

In 1970, the population of the village was over 4000+. The population now stands at 1200. Every year the IOF comes and demolishes 20 homes and demand that people leave the area. Since 1967 thirty residents of Atoof have been killed by the landmines, left in the mountains by the IOF, and more than 100 have been injured. Many of those killed and injured have been children simply playing on family land.

The village’s wells have dried up and they have to collect all their drinking water from nearby Tammun by tractor.

To further pressurise the villagers to leave, the IOF burnt down 30 dunums of olive groves in June 2008. But, despite all of this the villagers have collectively decided that they will not be intimidated and are determined to stay.
Andy Shaw

Andy Shaw