This in from a recent visitor to Yatma:
……confirmed that the settlement of Rechilim had hijacked the spring (as in the ISM report) and this had affected the water supply for Yatma and five other villages. As Yatma village is very poor – the poorest of the villages around Nablus – the villagers rely mainly on rain water to fill their water tanks. Obviously this is a problem during the summer and buying water from the Israeli is expensive for them.
But characteristically the villagers (Arafat interpreted) did not talk about this but took me to see a broken water pipe on Naim’s land. This farmer whose family Sarah and I visited on the CADFA tour (they have sold the goats Sarah!) The break has caused flooding, which could affect the olive trees, prevents the distribution of water to other fields and attracts the wild pigs who damage the trees. The Israeli’s are refusing to mend it and the Palestinian farmers cannot bring equipment to mend it themselves; the land is close to the watchtower/fence of Rechilim and the army will halt any repair operations. In fact the villagers were surprised that our group had not attracted the soldiers as it usually does, but is was Shabbat so maybe they weren’t around…….
Yatma residents are forced to buy water from very Israeli settlers who seized their spring!!!
A report on the Yatma water situation from a worker with the International Solidarity Movement described the situation in detail and we expect more updates soon.
(Yatma had a population of about 2900 in 2008).
The Yatma Boys School has a new building thanks to a Jordanian donor. But the building is nearly empty, lacking basic facilities, even furniture. Computers are generally lacking, there is no phone line and there is only one water tap for all the students in the school. (This reflects the generally desperate water situation in Yatma, which was deprived of its spring by the settlers of the Rechalim colony).
Sources in Yatma say that about 15 Yatma teenagers are in Israeli prisons, after being seized from their homes, generally in the middle of the night, over the past few months.
Many of these teenagers are followed to their homes after being seen throwing stones at the occupying Israeli armed forces at Za’atara, a large road junction and military checkpoint about 2 km from Yatma.
Palestinian teens seized for throwing stone are typically kept in prisons for long periods, without trial, while Israeli stone throwers are rarely sanctioned. The Yatma teens presently in Israeli jails have mostly been there since January. Until last year, when world outcry focussed attention on the practise, Palestinian teens over 15 were treated as adults and kept in adult jails under adult conditions, while Israeli teens under 18 were treated as children, a clearly discriminatory practice.
The policy of demolishing Palestinian homes within the West Bank appears to be an example of Israel establishing a bargaining position when dealing with the international pressure to stop illegal settlement building. By arbitrarily commencing a policy of home demolitions, the Israeli government has given itself bargaining power by which it can trade off some other concession in return for stopping its home demolitions. This may include protecting some of the illegal Israeli settlements.
All Palestinian construction in Israeli controlled ‘area c’ must be approved by Israeli authorities. In practise permission is rarely given. This means that anything built in these areas is subject to arbitrary removal at any time, even without demolition orders. Demolition orders have been in effect for many homes in Yatma for time, but haven’t been acted on since a few demolition orders were carried out several years ago. Recently a radical settler group Regavim has been pressuring the government to carry them out.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is the primary organisation fighting home demolitions, and a good explanation of the issue can be found on their web site.
Pending demolition orders keep Palestinian communities in a state of anxiety, because of the uncertainty about when the orders will be enforced, with the conflict and displacement that results.
If homes are demolished in Yatma, Israeli authorities will almost certainly use heavy equipment imported into Israel. In the past two multinational equipment manufacturers have been criticised for allowing their machines to be used in the gross human right violations committed by Israeli authorities in demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.
There is a worldwide movement to persuade Caterpillar to stop supplying machines to the regime in Israel to be used for human rights abuses. One of them is the BDS movement. Another is the Rachel Corrie Foundation. (Rachel Corrie was the young American killed by an Israeli occupation force Caterpillar while defending a Palestinian home from demolition).
The British multinational company JCB also sells heavy equipment to the Israeli occupation forces, (see JCB equipment being used to demolish Palestinian homes) and has an agent near Tel Aviv selling equipment throughout Israel. There are a number of campaigns to highlight the role of JCB machines in human rights abuses and to persuade JCB to divest from Israel.
Support for for these campaigns will make it more difficult for occupation forces to destroy Palestinian homes in future.
Supporters of Hastings Friends of Yatma or Canadian Friends of Yatma can be pleased that we completed funding two small projects in Yatma recently.
The first project was a telephone line and internet connection for the boys school, which had been delayed for some months by an intractable problem.
The second project was the provison of a digital projector for use by the Mother’s School Society, to use for educational programmes. Below is a photo of the projector being used.
Settlers uprooted 120 olive trees at Yatma on about July 6, 2012. The olive trees belonged to Yatma resident Bade’ Nasser.
The settlers are believed to come from Kefar Tappuach settlement, or possibly the ‘Taffouh’ settlement. An earlier attack on 30 trees in January was blamed on settler dissatisfaction with the forced evacuation of Jewish militants from three outposts. The ‘Price Tag’ campaign targets Palestinians in the West Bank in retaliation for actions by the Israeli government that the settlers don’t approve of. While the Israeli government claims to be against the Price Tag attacks, it generally sanctions the perpetrators only if they attack Israeli facilities. In a rare exception, Israeli occupation forces arrested the young woman in this video, for damaging Palestinian property in Luban Ash-Sharqiyia village.
A photograph in this blog, shows some of the damage done to the olive trees in Yatma.
This month’s attack is just the latest in a long string of attacks by settlers in the area south of Nablus. Perpetrators are rarely charged and compensation is not paid. This report compiled by the Palestine Centre for Human Rights documents some of the Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories for the week ending 12 July 2012.