Yesterday, some 20 school children were locked out of their village Wadi Rasha by the Apartheid Wallâs gate for nearly four hours after attending school in the adjacent village of Habla. The students arrived at the gate, the only passage between the two villages, at 12:30 to find it locked. When Israeli soldiers, who have the only key to the village gate, arrived at the gate, sometime after 3pm, they claimed that they did not have a key with which to open the gate and would have to retrieve one from Qalqiliya; the students were forced to wait another hour before being permitted to return to their homes, in their own village.
***image4***Communities along the Apartheid Wall throughout the northern West Bank are suffering from reoccurring incidents such as this on a daily basis, underlining Israelâs tactics to force Palestinians off of their land. Wadi Rasha is one of the sixteen villages between the Wall and the Green Line, in the Israeli de facto annexed area and declared âmilitary zoneâ; it sits in an enclave with four other communities and the Israeli settlement Alfe Menashe. All five of these communities, with a collective population of some 800 residents, have already lost land to the settlement and are now additionally facing imprisonment and isolation from all services.
***image6***This latest incident in Wadi Rasha surfaces concerns within the community that the military is using the villageâs children to pressure them, to make life further unbearable, and to force Wadi Rashaâs inhabitants to recognize the gated permit system.
Wadi Rash depends entirely on Habla for medical and educational services in addition to water resources. The Wall separates the two villages, leaving but one gate between them through which only students are âpermittedâ to pass. In order to reach Habla, others must travel seven kilometers to the gate in Ras Atiah, where the Wall is still under construction and the gate is usually âopenâ. Before the Apartheid Wall tore between the communities, Habla was only a two minute walk from Wadi Rasha.
The forced separation of these two communities has alienated residents in Wadi Rasha from their business in Habla. In order to maintain their businesses and income, many families have been obliged to separate, having part of the family move to Habla in order to take care of their business. Other residents who had land or greenhouses in Habla were forced to sell them as the Wall prohibits them from tending to their plants and crops.
***image2***Families in the village have become increasingly dependent upon agriculture since many lost jobs inside the Green Line from Israeli imposed closures over the West Bank. The Wall is now depriving them of this sustenance as they are unable to access their irrigated lands or their agriculture water networks in Habla. The villageâs dependence is shifting to olives and wheat, yet soon these harvests will be entirely inaccessible from the Wall, highlighting the forced impoverishment taking place by Israelâs policy.
Already, the deteriorating economic situation has forced many residents to pull their students out of school as the financial costs are too steep. How much longer students and all residents from Wadi Rasha will be able to continue daily life, increasingly marked by imprisonment from sustenance and services, is diminishing as the Wallâs coming completion is leaving them in the jaws of Alfe Menasheâs expansion.