A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Dier Ibzia - an occupied village in the west bank|
|07/29/02 at 16:26:56|
My name is Fehmida. I am 32 years old and I live in London with my two children and
husband. I have just returned from my trip to Palestine (17/7/2002) . Whilst there, I was a
volunteer for International Solidarity Movement. I spent my time in a small occupied
village, where the people had suffered more hardship than I would ever know. It was the most
heart rendering experience I ever went through. I met the most warmest, kindest, passionate
and courageous people. Here is a report I wrote a few days after I came back to UK.
Living under occupation in Dier Ibzia
Life under occupation is a miserable one. The people of Palestine have lived under
occupation for decades. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strip live under Israeli
military law, which resembles a pariah state, such as that of recent South Africa. Their homes
can be searched and entered without warrant, they can be arrested without charge and held
in jails without trial, routinely tortured and interrogated, cannot move freely from town
to town and can be expelled from the country, without reason.
Palestinians have to pay taxes to the Israeli Government, but are not allowed to vote or
receive Government services. Taxes collected in the occupied territories are spent on
Dier Ibzia is an occupied village, which lies just west of Rammallah. It is one of 40
villages that are clustered all over the western Ramallah region. Each village has a story
to tell, similar accounts of suffering and humiliation at the hands of the Israeli army.
Dier Ibzia, is an extraordinary place of natural beauty, a place which could be mistaken
for the Mediterranean. An expansion of Hilltop Mountains spread out with 1000-year-old
olive groves and fertile rich soils, a land worth fighting for.
Existence in Dier Ibzia is never constant, changeable from week to week or even day to
day. 2 weeks ago this village was soiled by armoured tank, causing ever more destruction.
Tomorrow they may be back, along with the of patrolling armed IDF soldiers, mostly who are
young, hormonal and arrogant, and have a point to prove.
The contempt of the soldiers is apparent, as villagers are subjected to yob like conduct
from these ideological militia, who are pre-programmed from birth to “cleanse their
country of Palestinians.”
The Palestinian situation is always volatile.
45 year old Taweel Subhi lives with his wife Buphaina, their children and grandfather,
“On one occasion, the IDF were just throwing stones at our windows, they kept on and on,
all night, this was the worst night of my life”.
Villagers say they walk past soldiers with extra caution, trying to prevent eye contact
with IDF, so as not to anger or exasperate them, to prevent them from being detained or
their homes being searched, or worse. A cold reminiscent to Second World War nazi
The Israeli army have put up roadblocks on all roads leading out of Dier Ibzia between
villages and the nearest town, which is Ramallah. The implication of this is mental and
physical devastation. Roadblocks between villages and towns act as a weapon of economic
terrorism. The villages of Dier Ibzia relies on Ramallah as a life source. Without Ramallah,
villagers cannot sell produce, go to work, to school, university, and go to the hospitals
to seek medical attention.
Leila a young women from the village explained “The Israeli army cut the road by digging
it and putting big rocks in the middle of the road, making it unable for people and
traffic to pass it. The soldiers place themselves in tanks on top of the hill to control the
Curfews are placed by the Israeli army, without warning. The road to Rammallah may be
open from 9.00am –12.00am, or sometimes not at all, as 24 hour curfews are quite the norm.
Villagers have lost their jobs, students who travel to Ramallah for schools and
universities have missed exams, and education has suffered. Student Nadia Kamal from Dier Ibzia
says, “its very difficult, I have had to miss so many important lectures, my exam results
have suffered considerably.” Nadia and her sister have had to walk to their school in
Ramallah. “It takes 10 minutes by car but 2 hours or more by foot”; sometimes they had to
sneak through the mountains, risking their lives in order to receive education.
Recently, the village school was also targeted by tanks. One side of the wall was
destroyed, all the windows were smashed and tear gas was thrown in. Villagers have said “by
hitting at education institutes, they aim to deprive knowledge, which can be used as a non
violent weapon for the Palestinians”.
Currently the unemployment rate in Dier Ibzia is 70%; Palestinians have lost their jobs
as a direct result of curfews. Israelis are also encouraged to sack the Palestinians and
persuade workers from other countries to work for them.. Another approach for reaching
their goal of a Palestinian-free country.
Most of the villages on the west of Ramallah have no income, this is reflected in the
houses that are left in mid construction, people cannot afford to carry on building homes.
Local shops are empty, having only tinned supplies as fresh fruit and vegetable cannot not
be traded in from village to village.
As a self sufficient village most of the funding for Dier Ibiza’s roads, mosque, schools
etc comes from its agricultural fields. Now this has dwindled, they cannot meet their
budgetary needs. As the infrastructure crumbles beneath the Palestinians, so is the feeling
of desperation and despair. The daily ritual of harassment, being shot at, homes being
searched, and mindless unnecessary violence has taken its toll.
The health implication of curfews are daunting. Medical supplies are running low and
ambulances cannot get through. Villagers have died from not being able to get access to
medical attention, having to climb the mountains and travel miles to seek help, which by car
or taxi would take less than 10 minutes.
The IDF soldiers have refused the very sick from entering Rammallah, where the nearest
hospital is located. The father of Deeb Kamal, a resident of Dier Ibzia, was not allowed by
the IDF to get to a hospital, he did not survive. A woman, from a neighbouring village of
Qibya who was in labour, was refused entry in to Rammallah by the IDF soldiers. She was
forced to climb through the hills to try to get through to Ramallah hospital, but gave
birth in the mountains, her baby died shortly after. These cases are just a few of many.
Sometimes the villagers have no option, other than defying curfew, in which case, if they
are seen, are interrogated.
Deeb Kamal, a resident of the village has said “they can be subjected to interrogation
and kept under the sun for 6-8 hours, without any water, in other cases they are shot at.”
Settler towns are appearing in Dier Ibzia at an alarming rate. A new settlement was built
just eighteen months ago, on the hill opposite Dier Ibzia. In the last few months there
has been more construction work, new houses are immerging constantly. The settler town are
built on Palestinian land, which they have owned for centuries. Olive groves that were
1000s of years old were uprooted to build the settlements, which are provided with modern
electricity and water systems. These natural resources belong to the Palestinian
villages, who now are in constant electricity and water supply shortages. Not a day goes by
without power cuts and water restriction. Resources are unequally distributed, 80% of water
resource in the West Bank is consumed by the settlers, who make up less than 20% of the
population. The nights in the villagers are sometime pitch black, houses are lit up with
and oil lamps or candles. The only lights in the power cuts that can be seen are the
coming from the settler towns, whose electricity never seem to get cut of.
The settler towns are not just a place for the Israelis to live; they are strategically
placed and have a very political agenda.
As settlements in Dier Ibzia are between Palestinian villages, this stops any movement
from one village to the next, preventing villagers from selling their produce to each
other, causing dire economic consequences.
Dier Ibzia has a stream that runs through the village and at the bottom of the stream,
has a pool. This is a haven for the villagers, a place for family picnics and escapism.
However, the settlers have planned a leisure complex here for Israeli use. If this plan goes
ahead, the villagers would be denied their only sanctuary.
The aim of Israel is to stop any life line or communication between the villages and
towns so as to stifle them. To suffocate the life line of jobs, food and medical supply, in
the hope the Palestinians somehow will wither away and cease to exists.
The unequal parallel of poverty of the Palestinians and prosperous Israeli settlements is
accelerating. Built on confiscated Palestinian land, the settlers continue to harass the
Palestinians and shoot at them. A resident of Dier Ibzia says “they come down and burn
our crops or destroy them with their guns” .Palestinians have no power to defend
themselves. Any laws that the Palestinian National Authority makes, can be vetoed by Israel.
Armed struggles by Palestinians have been used by the Israeli government as an excuse for
non-negotiation. They claim to be the victims and produce the same rhetoric “not until
the violence stops.” But occupation is violence, state terrorism is violence, killing
unarmed children is violence.
Being under occupation has a dramatic effect on all aspects of the lives of the
Palestinians, each person has been affected.
The psychological and economic effect on a nation that has been tormented by this ethnic
cleansing must be empathised, yet sadly, it rarely is.
Once a prosperous affluent nation with well-established societies, Palestine is now
reduced to a nation with no land and uncertain about their future existence. Palestinians are
victimised and humiliated on a daily basis. Every family in every village has a story to
tell. A story of, anger, despair, hopelessness, fear, and courage. Palestinians carry on
regardless, in the face of the bombings, tha killing of their children and the ritual
oppression they face. What else can they do, apart from carry on.
Reported by Fehmida Shah , July 2002
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