‘Arab ar Ramadin al Janubi is in the seam zone. Sandwiched between the green line and the wall, the village is isolated.
by Samuel, Jayyus/Tulkarm team
“Fine, let them build the wall. But do it on the green line,” Suhad says to me.
Suhad works for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) which is an NGO that offers medical services for the most vulnerable people in Palestinian society. She says these words as we stand on the outskirts of the village ‘Arab ar Ramadin al Janubi, which is a village PMRS supplies medical services for. The reason is that the village is in the seam zone.
In 20012, the Israeli goverment decided to build a wall between Israel and the West bank for security reasons. But due to illegal Israeli settlements in the West bank, the wall was built to keep as many of the settlements on the Israeli side of the wall. 85% of the wall is built on Palestinian land, thus creating an area between the “green line,” the internationally recognized border between Israel and Palestine, and the wall. This area is known as the seam zone. Those living in this area are still living in Palestinian territory, but are separated from the rest of the West Bank.
Because’Arab ar Ramadin al Janubi is located in the seam zone, they are not able to build. Therefore, the new school they built has a stop working order on it, which means it will be demolished. The case on the school is in the Israeli court and is yet to be decided.
I talked to Alam, the head mistress in the school. She previously worked as a teacher in Hablas, a village in the West Bank that is not in the seam zone.
“What is the biggest difference to work here compared to Hablas?” I ask.
“The movement” she says. “To come here you need a permit to cross the checkpoint.”
To cross a checkpoint in the wall, you need to apply for a permit for a specific checkpoint. You either need to have land or a job on the other side of the wall. Many people are rejected. Alam tells me there is problem for her and the teachers at the checkpoints. It can be problems related to permits, but mostly it takes a long time to stand in the queue to pass.
“How are the children affected by the occupation?” I ask.
Always when I ask questions like this I feel embarrassed because it is so obvious the children here can’t live a normal life. Still, I want to hear the people living under Israeli occupation describe it themselves.
“To be isolated here,” the headmistress replies. “They can’t move and they can’t get the services they need. They are blocked in.”
She tells me that they can’t go to school trips like normal school children. The school must coordinate with the Israeli authorities to get books to the school. It is also hard when the children will be vaccinated because they have to pass the checkpoint and go in to other parts of the West Bank.
“Everything is hard behind the wall. Things that normally take one hour take the entire day.”
Suhad and I take a tour in the school and greets the children. When Suhad asks if they are happy to be back in school, they smile and say yes.
“Why” Suhad asks.
“Because it will help us to become adults and be educated,” a little girl replies.
After our school visit Suhad and I take a walk around the village. She points to the Israeli settlement on a hill not too far away. This settlement is the reason that the wall is dividing this village and others from the rest of the West Bank. She tells me that her father used to be a farmer and have land. He used to export fruit to Kuwait and other countries, then only to Jordan, then selling only locally in the West Bank and now the land is behind the wall so he can’t use it.
Once again I feel embarrassed for my question but I ask it anyway.
“What do you think is the first step towards peace?” I ask.
Suhad smiles sadly and says, “To stop the occupation.”