In the two villages of Irtah and Farâun, south of the city of Tulkarem, the Occupation Forces have continued their ongoing confiscation and demolition policies. In these villages, the most recent implementation of these policies show the Occupation plans for the total ghettoization of communities isolated by the Wall. They also reveal the intended fate of these ghettos through the implementation of âindustrial zonesâ that will bring devastation to the area.
In the village of Irtah, where the Wall has already destroyed and isolated many of the villageâs lands, the Occupation Forces are now opening a new military road. The road surrounds thirteen homes in the village. This creates a new form of ghetto for this section of Irtah, since this area had already been surrounded by the Wall on three sides (the western, southern and eastern); in some places the Wall passes less than 20 meters away from the nearest houses. These thirteen homes, which currently house 64 people, are now further cut off by this new road that totally isolates it from the rest of the village. So the Occupation Forces have turned this area into an island, trapped between the Wall and the new road.
Many acts of land confiscation and destruction, carried out in order to build the Apartheid Wall, have already been completed during the first phase of the Wallâs construction in Irtah. The Wall was built on the stolen land and the destroyed farms of the people from the western and southern sides of the village. Irtahâs land area before the Wall was built was 2,700 dunums, and the 4,200 people living in the village relied to large extent on their lands for their living. Before the 1948 Nakba the lands of the village extended to Um Khaled village â a village destroyed by the Occupation in 1948 â on the Palestinian coast.
With the completion of the Apartheid Wall, the whole area has been turned into a living hell. The Wall destroyed 200 dunums along its path; the land that was destroyed had been planted with citrus trees and included six dunums of land that contained greenhouses. In addition, the Wall totally isolated another 25 dunums of land on the western side of the Wall. Furthermore, a gas station belonging to Hashem Younis from Tulkarem city, which was important to the economy of Irtah, was closed last October.
But the Wall was in no way the beginning of the Irtahâs suffering under the Occupation. There are also the terrible environmental effects of the chemical factories established by Israeli companies on 200 dunums of land on the northwestern side of the village. This began with the Gishuri factory, established in Tulkarem in 1984, which produces chemical products, mainly agricultural chemicals. The factory was moved to Tulkarem because it failed to get licensed in Telmond (inside the Green Line) due to its dangerous effects on the environment and health.
The Gishuri factory has had a very damaging impact on the health of the people (especially children) living in Irtah and throughout the rest of the Tulkarem region, with documented increases in a number of childhood diseases in the area. This is in addition to the destruction it has caused to agricultural lands surrounding it, because of the chemical wastes dumped in the surrounding agricultural lands. For example, the wastewater from this and other factories has damaged citrus groves and polluted the soil in the area, in addition to the damage that it may cause to the groundwater.
Gishuri is not the only Israeli factory that is causing environmental devastation in the area, however. Three other factories were established during the late 1980s and early 1990s. One is a factory for recycling solid wastes, established in 1989. There is also an oxidization factory, which was moved from Netanya, inside the Green Line, and established in Irtah in 1990 (it was moved because it had caused the poisoning of children in a school in Netanya). Also established in 1990 was Yamit, which moved from Shaâre Efrine, also inside the Green Line. Yamit produces liquid fertilizers and filters for agricultural use. All of these factories have had devastating health and environmental implications for the people of Irtah: for example, there has been a great increase in cases of serious respiratory illnesses among the people living near these factories, especially among children.
Moreover, if the plans of the Occupation are allowed to be implemented, things will only get worse. The Occupation Forces are planning a huge industrial zone in this area, one of a whole series of industrial zones planned on the eastern side of the Wall. The industrial zone in Tulkarem will be on 500 dunums of lands confiscated from the people of these villages: 300 dunums will be confiscated from Farâun village, and 200 dunums from Irtah. Like all of the industrial zones being planned by the Occupation Forces in this area, this zone will be located at the main entrances of the ghettos created by the Wall in the West Bank.
Like Irtah, the village of Farâun has seen a new stage of Occupation since the completion of a section of the Apartheid Wall here. The Occupation Forces demolished two houses in Farâun last November as part of the construction of the Wall. The two houses were in the western part of the village, where there had been twelve houses, along with an animal stable. After the demolition of the two houses, the Occupation Forces gave more demolition orders for the remaining ten houses. All twelve houses were targeted because they were on the eastern side of the Wall, which was constructed as close as 20 meters away from some of these houses.
The demolition of the two houses and the continuing threat of demolition that hangs over the rest of the structures in this area is an essential part of the unannounced Occupation policy to demolish all the houses that ended up close to the Wall as a result of the path that was chosen. However, being further from the Wall is also no guarantee of safety, since many houses that are threatened with demolition are more than 1,000 meters away from the Wall.
The Apartheid Wall, completed here in its first phase last year, surrounds Farâun village from three sides (the western, southern and eastern sides). It passes near the village of Jubara, which is now completely isolated behind the Wall. The Wall, in its path, destroyed 1,000 dunums of land and isolated another 4,000 dunums of the villageâs lands from the people of Farâun. As mentioned above, another 300 dunums of land will now be confiscated for the industrial zone. Meanwhile, the people in the village cannot reach their isolated lands, since here the Wall contains only one gateâthough it is false to even refer to it as a gate, since it is always closed.
For more information on the military orders recently issued to villages in the Tulkarem area, see:
What Will Come Next After the Apartheid Wall Is Completed?
In Tulkarem: A Buffer Zone for the Wall on the Eastern Side 300 Meters Wide, New Confiscations, and New Demolitions.