On December 14, 2004, Occupation Forces began bulldozing and destroying lands in Deir Ballut village, located in the western part of Salfit District (see maps below), in preparation for the completion of the Apartheid Wall’s construction in the central West Bank. Occupation Forces are now bulldozing the lands located to the southwest of Deir Ballut village, named the Ta’mor area, which is situated between Deir Ballut and the village of Rantis. The bulldozing and destruction is directed in two directions: toward the east, in the direction of the homes and houses of Deir Ballut villagers, and also in the direction of the north area of the village.
Work on the Apartheid Wall here began in June 2004. Sustained popular resistance from Deir Ballut and Zawiya villagers began at about the same time as the building of the Wall, where daily demonstrations by huge numbers of women and men from the villages aimed at stopping the Occupation Forces from uprooting trees and destroying the land. Eventually, the number of people who were being seriously injured, the attention that the Wall was receiving in the international press, and the sheer persistence of the resistance of the people of Deir Ballut forced the Occupation Forces to stop work on the Apartheid Wall for four consecutive months. (See the links below for articles reporting on the resistance in Deir Ballut and Zawiya.)
At the time, Occupation Forces announced that the Apartheid Wall’s path would remain on the Green Line in order to âreduceâ its destructive effects on the lives of the villagers. But the people of Deir Ballut and the surrounding villages understood this to be simply a media advertisement, part of the attempt to divert international public opinion from the approaching date of the International Court of Justice ruling on the issue of the legality of the Wall at that time. It was also understood as an attempt to absorb the villagers’ outrage and to control their resistance. The villagers have been proven right, since at this moment the Wall continues to be built on the expropriated lands and properties of the village residents in spite of these supposed assurances to the contrary.
The Apartheid Wall’s supposedly revised route in Deir Ballut, according to the new Occupation maps, is in fact no different from its previously planned path. The Wall will pass at a distance of just three kilometers from the villagers’ homes. According to the maps of the “new” path of the Wall, it will be built in the southwestern and western areas of the village, close to the Green Line, but still on village lands, because all the lands in that area (up to the edge of the village of Kufur Qassem, occupied in 1948), were originally part of Deir Ballut village. The Wall will pass close to the villagers’ properties and lands and trees in the northwest. So the alterations made by Occupation Forces to the Wall’s path represent no change on this side of the village; the Wall’s path will remain as is, destroying and expropriating most of the village’s lands. In addition, Deir Ballut, which is well known for its abundance of olive trees, will suffer from having many of these olive trees uprooted as part of the process of imposing the Apartheid Wall on these lands.
The Apartheid Wall in Deir Ballut expropriates hundreds of dunums of land that will be destroyed in its path. More than 18,000 dunums of the village’s lands, which originally totaled 60,000 dunums, will be isolated behind the Wall. This is in addition to the eastern Wall, which Occupation Forces are intending to build on the village lands on the eastern side of this area. Together, these sections of the Wall will isolate and surround Deir Ballut, cutting it off completely not only from its fertile agricultural lands, but also from the rest of Salfit District and the surrounding towns.
At the same time, the path of the Apartheid Wall in the western area encircles together the three villages located in that area (Deir Ballut, Zawiya, and Rafat), which lay in a parallel line (see maps below). The Wall will surround these three villages and place the area into a canton isolated from the surrounding villages and towns. At the same time, the three villages will also be isolated from the great majority of their lands by the path of the Wall. The people living in these villages used to rely on work inside the Green Line before the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000, because of the proximity of these villages to the Green Line and because reaching their places of work before this time was relatively easy. But with the intensification of the Occupation policy of closure, which began in the 1990s, after September 2000, villagers were unable to reach their workplaces inside the Green Line. This meant that most of them had to return once again to agriculture as their primary work, and they have since relied on working the land as a basic source of income.
If and when the Apartheid Wall is completed here, this area will be surrounded in all directions. Villagers will have no connection with the outside world except through what is called the Zawiya tunnel, which leads to Masha village in the north. This means that the villages of Deir Ballut, Zawiya, and Rafat would be completely isolated from the rest of Salfit District. This is disastrous, since the villagers rely on access to the city of Salfit for education and daily activities such as shopping for food and clothing. With the completion of the Wall here, if the villagers want to reach the city of Salfit, located just a few kilometers away, they will be forced to detour far to the north, to the city of Nablus, and then to the area near northern Ramallah, in order to reach Salfit city. What is now a short trip will soon require a full dayâs journey in order to reach Salfitâassuming that there are no Occupation checkpoints along the way to slow the trip down further or make it simply impossible to pass.
LINKS TO RECENT ARTICLES ON DEIR BALLUT AND ZAWIYA:
A Day in the North