Today secondary students in Azzun Atman were forced to remain inside their classrooms and banned from playing football outside by Israeli soldiers–who then tore down the schoolâs Palestinian flag. Adjacent to the villageâs co-educational school in the south is an Israeli military checkpoint; just a few hundred meters thereafter lies the Israeli settlement Shaâare Tiqva. While residentsâ lives are increasingly imprisoned by the Apartheid Wall, which isolates Azzun Atma into the de facto annexed area behind the Wall, Israeli Jewish-only settlements and by-pass roads continue to steal and expand over their land.
***image3***Azzun Atma shares land with the neighboring villages of Beit Amin and Sanniriya. However, the Wall has cut through the lands of Azzun Atma to separate it from the other two villages which are located to the northwest. All three communities have lost land to the settlement Shaâare Tiqva which is only 750 meters from Sanniriya and boarders Azzun Atma and Beit Amin. This morning, the village council from Azzun Atma stated that in conjunction with the Apartheid Wall around the village, Israeli construction was underway for extending Road 60, a major settler by-pass road which slices the West Bank into cantons by running from the south past Hebron to Jenin in the north. This latest expansion will equate to the roadâs further division of the West Bank from the east to west while also separating some 70 residents in Azzun Atma from their village.
For the time being, villagers are able to leave Azzun Atma through the northern entrance and go to Beit Amin; however residents from Beit Amin are barred from reaching Azzun Atma and thus cannot access their farmland or groves. It is expected that soon all movement between the villages will be impossible with the Wallâs âcompletionâ and that an additional military checkpoint will be fortified between the villages. Over the past few months a âtemporaryâ checkpoint has frequently been put up at the north entrance. At both of the checkpoints in Azzun Atma, villagers endure immense humiliation when attempting to cross; the village council reported that this morning the Israeli soldiers were harassing girls from the school.
***image2***Azzun Atma is one of the communities included in the Israeli military order from October 2nd which claims that residents located between the Apartheid Wall and the 1967 Green Line must âproveâ they were born in their village and apply for âpermitsâ in order to remain on their land. Conversely, residents in villages east of the Wall but who own land isolated to the west, such as those in Beit Amin and Sanniriya, will be forced to acquire permits to reach their land to pass through the Wallâs gates. While residents in all of these communities are struggling to reach and/or remain on their land, the devastating future of expulsion encroaches rapidly as Israeli settlers continue to seize their land.