photos can be
called up in
enlarged form by mouse click)
Escort and helper
definition our purpose was first of all to be present if anything
happened and possibly to avert danger and escalation. With time we
became aware that the various situations were difficult to judge. The
majority of the settlers lives in the Palestinian territories mainly
for economic reasons and is hardly concerned with the Palestinians.
However, the security forces can apparently be rather unpleasant and in
certain groups of settlers are extremely dangerous. While we were
a sixteen year old Palestinian was killed in a confrontation with
settlers (see also below). One of the farmers we worked with was
his mule during a settler attack four days before we arrived. It seems
that no authority cares about such thefts. Sometimes it is important
helpers turn up in great numbers because the military will allow access
to the groves only for a few days.
to the grove of our farmer.
Two weeks earlier the farmer was fired at with rubber-clad iron bullets
Once in a
while we had the impression to be mainly workers. This possibly
had to do with the fact that it was the time of Ramadan when people
had to get through the day without drinking or eating, where not
drinking apparently was the more difficult part in this fairly warm
weather. In addition, harvesting the olives is not very profitable,
since the farmers have difficulties to market their products and prices
are hence not cost-effective.
With time we noticed when the farmers were simply very grateful
for the help and tried to make life for us as comfortable as possible.
Occasionally we were invited into their homes, but in each case we had
refuse for various reasons.
At the end of our time it could happen that we left earlier, when e.g.
some male family members settled down for a longer chat while
pregnant women were dragging the ladders around.
days we went along with the 'Rabbis
for Human Rights' who organized
daily bus trips to the harvest for Israeli volonteers from Jerusalem
and Tel Aviv with one or
two busses holding about 25 people. At least during two of these days
it must have been truly dangerous. On these days we were guarded by
Israeli police or military who kept an eye on us for the whole time.
Detail from a UN-OCHA map of the district of Salfit. This section
connects to the western side of the map shown above (in part 1).
Between Masha and Az Zawiya a dirt road goes through an underpass below
the four lane settler highway no. 5. After the completion of the wall
this will be the only access to all the villages towards the south.
After the first four days in Salfit we moved to Az
Salfit in westerly direction past a sewage creek in which the
untreated sewage from Ariel ran off towards the western border.
A narrow green strip along which cows were grazing.
Hansruedi later became very interested in the sewage problem,
especially with respect to the question of who was sending his sewage
whom. It seems to be relatively simple: In all of the West Bank there
is no sewage treatment (see C.
The Israelis are not building any and the Palestinians are not allowed
to build any even if somebody provides the money. On this trip we came
past an aborted construction site of a sewer that would have been
financed with German money. For the Palestinians the problem is more
severe since in many places the supply of water is less than 20 % of
what is available to the Israelis.
The first part of this trip ended at an extended triple
across which we had to drag all our baggage to the other side.
In Az Zawiya we were
lodged in the quite spacious ground floor of a fairly new private
The apartment had a large furnished kitchen, good
bathroom facilities and bedrooms with mattresses on the floor. The
house belonged to a couple where the husband was working in an Israeli
industrial park and the wife was a teacher. This way they were probably
fairly well off economically. She spoke very good English and was
unusually aware and politically interested. She also was a very good
once supplied us with a complete evening meal and brought other things
every now and then. Normally we prepared our meals ourselves from the
things we could get in the local stores, purely vegetarian, but always
well seasoned and quite tasty.
view from the main road back to the road to Salfit across several
was located at the edge of town. The
first evening a
military jeep was standing next to the house for quite some time with
blinking yellows lights. Then it drove down into the town with a search
flood light turned on, accompanied by the screeching insults of the
children who must have been waiting for it.
evening our host took us to the
north-western corner of town to the location where the planned course
of the 'security' wall approaches the town to a distance of about 50 m.
In the spring the Israelis had started to clear and level the grounds,
cutting and uprooting the olive trees. There were massive protests
the local population which were supported by Israeli and international
activists. Probably influenced by the running hearings in the court
case against the construction of the wall at the International Court of
Justice, the clearing action was stopped and the planned course of the
wall was changed afterwards.
In October we still had the view of a ghostly landscape, jutted with
stumps of completely bare olive trees. The farmers had replanted the
uprooted trees, and there is apparently a chance that these trees will
take root again.
In the mornings we always had to get a collective taxi
roadblock at Qarawat and from there we went on in various directions
with the orange colored taxis.
doors at the roadblock at Qarawat. Settlements on the hills all around.
The way in which the public transport was managed in the exclave, to
which Az Zawiya belonged, and on the settler roads, was
surprising. If we went down to the main road at 6 o'clock in the
morning we usually did not have to wait for more than a few minutes
before we were picked up by a collective taxi. The trip to Qarawat was
about $ 0.60. From there were we usually also had only a short
stopover. The trip to Haris was about $ 0.40. That appears cheap, but
it is not
for the local population. Our hostess told us that previously one could
go by bus to Nablus for 5 Shekels which is about $ 1.20. Now one has to
take three different taxis and has to pay 15 Shekels, i.e. three times
as much – disregarding the fact that during the end of our
could get in or out of Nablus because the occupation force had closed
all access roads for several days.
Within the exclave the taxis were in a fairly wretched state; in one
case a side window was missing. On two days we stopped at a gas station
in the morning in order to get not quite two gallons of diesel fuel for
20 Shekels (about $ 5), indicating that the taxi drivers live from hand
When we stayed in Az Zawiya I took two days off for some
Israel. That way I was able to see from the outside the 'security' wall
completely enclosed town of Qualquiya and the one at Tulkarem. Both
cities are located near the green line, i.e. the border between Israel
and Palestine. A turnpike is located close to the wall. At the same
time some of our group were taking photos on the inside, a gruesome
sight that has been widely publicized.
the wall at Qualquiya
on the Israeli side
second photo: the same wall on the other side
third photo: the wall at Tulkarem which
is hardly visible from the Israeli side
I was returning from Jerusalem with the bus of the
Rights' and we went to Jit, which is located on the road that
at Haris. For me the trip in the bus was a welcome opportunity to talk
to Israelis, even though it was clear that this was a selection of
people with a basic political attitude that was not so much different
Near Jit a
small outpost consisting
of container homes is located.
From there one could evidently expect problems. For that reason two
Israeli police cars moved into position above the tree line. The
presence of the police apparently caused a jeep approaching from the
settlement to turn around half way along.
The grove was not very big, so that we were finished soon and moved to
a grove closer to the village which was unproblematic. In the village a
number of women and children were waiting for us and provided us
Among the women was an unusually good looking
12 children and prospective grandmother with her youngest offspring on
The next day we also went with the group organized by
this time directly into the settlement of Qedumin. As I learned later
letter from the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom,
settlement in the West Bank, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon
In the beginning also several police cars also turned up which,
disappeared after a while. Once in a while cars drove by and
were also passing by. One of these pedestrains must have been irritated
by the situation because he began to sing loudly.
allowed to bring his tractor into the settlement. For that reason he
had to bring along his donkey to be able to carry the olives to the
entrance of the settlement. At least this gave reason for a nice
souvenir photo with the farmer and with Robert from our group.
Shortly before we left there was some
disturbance. An older
Palestinesian woman had picked her olives near the entrance all by
herself and was repeatedly taunted by people coming by. At some point
it became to much for her and she came over exitedly to where we
were, asking for help. Unfortunately we were about to leave and could't
do anything for her.
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1 to part 3