“Completion” of the Wall around Azzun Atma Concretizing the Expulsion of Residents
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“Completion” of the Wall around Azzun Atma Concretizing the Expulsion of Residents

Some three weeks ago, the Apartheid Wall was “completed” around Azzun Atma with one military checkpoint/gate in the Wall becoming the only entrance for the village, the gate was further built with a five meter ominous sniper-tower. This gate has become a place of intensifying humiliation to all from Israeli soldiers—all residents of Azzun Atma leaving or people from Beit Amin, Mas-ha, Sanniriya, Azzawiya, and Habla who must pass by the sniper-tower into the village in order to reach their land, schools, of workplaces. The intolerable treatment, from harassing teachers and school children to holding farmers and workers at the gate for hours as well as the isolation from basic services, is causing many to painfully consider leaving their homes.

***image3***For the last two months, Israeli soldiers stated that the gate would be open three times a day for two-hour intervals; as with all of the Wall’s gates and Israeli checkpoints this has amounted to the utter humiliation of people. If one is a student, her bag will be intensively searched before crossing into Azzun Atma, on average two hours late for school; and on the way returning home the same. If he is eight years or older then a permit is required from the Occupation” Civil Administration” for entering and exiting Azzun Atma for school. The Israeli soldiers have been routinely harassing teenage girls on their way to and from school, which has caused many girls to withdraw from their school in Azzun Atma and the building of a new girls’ school has been halted entirely.

If one is a farmer they must await long hours at the gate in hopes of it being opened while their crops and land lie untended on the other side of the Wall. The soldiers are prohibiting cars from passing through the gate, thus agricultural equipment and the shipping of produce in large quantities is impossible. Recently, the soldiers prevented the village truck that carries wheat into Azzun Atma from passing, forcing the people to mill their wheat on the checkpoint. Merchants coming into Azzun Atma from neighboring villages live with a similar reality of being unable to either reach the village or if they do, unable to bring in goods for their shops.

The general doctor who visits the village is now prohibited by the soldiers from reaching the medical center in the village; causing his time in the village to be limited from two days a week to two hours twice a week. During Ramadan, the soldiers where regularly withholding people at the gate when the time to break fast was nearing, forcing people to break fast at the checkpoint.

Anyone wishing to visit family inside Azzun Atma, or from the village to visit family elsewhere, finds the journey unlikely as “borders police/soldiers” have begun controlling the gate, with women soldiers brought to increase the searching of women, which have imposed more restrictions on people’s movements such as not allowing people from Azzun Atma who live outside it to enter the village to visit their families, especially women who are married to someone from outside the village.

The encaging of Azzun Atma and imprisonment and humiliation of the people is not only demobilizing life within the village but further compounding the reality of the Apartheid’s aim—expulsion.