Day of Action in Jayyus Demands an End to the Occupation’s Continuing Land Theft and Colonial Settlement Expansion
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Day of Action in Jayyus Demands an End to the Occupation’s Continuing Land Theft and Colonial Settlement Expansion

On January 4, the people of Jayyus and the popular committee of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign held a day of action protesting the new Israeli plan to finalize the Occupation’s control of Palestinian land by building a new settlement just behind the Apartheid Wall on their isolated lands.

Several hundred people from Jayyus and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign met in the Jayyus Municipal Building with international supporters. In addition to participants from throughout Occupied Palestine, delegations from Australia, Austria, the Basque Country, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States were in attendance.

Sharif Omar, head of the popular committee in Jayyus—whose land, which was isolated behind the Wall, is now threatened to become completely inaccessible to him with the building of the new settlement—began by introducing some of the most recent attacks by Occupation Forces affecting the community of Jayyus. These are part of the second phase of the Apartheid Wall and related plans for the Occupied West Bank. During the first stage of construction of the Wall, 72% of Jayyus’ lands, approximately 8,600 dunums (2,150 acres), were confiscated, tens of thousands of trees uprooted, and valuable water resources, olive and citrus groves, and greenhouses isolated from the people of Jayyus behind the Wall.

In December 2004, Occupation Forces began bulldozing land and uprooting trees in Jayyus in order to build the new settlement of “Nofei Zufim” on land that has been isolated by the Wall; this will expand on the already existing settlement of Zufin, established by the Occupation Forces on land confiscated from the village in 1993. Sharif Omar called attention to the most recent destruction, including the uprooting of more than 700 olive trees since December 10. In just one day, Occupation Forces uprooted 117 olive trees belonging to Jayyus farmers Jamil Salim and Tawfiq Salim, almost half of their grove of 350 trees.

Palestinian speakers explained to the audience that what was happening in Jayyus was part of the second stage of Israeli Apartheid plans, after the completion of much of the Apartheid Wall had marked the end of the first phase. This phase, as could be seen in Jayyus and other parts of Qalqiliya district, would be marked by the continuing expansion of colonial settlements; the building of Israeli “industrial zones” to exploit Palestinian labor and turn Palestinian into slaves in ghettoes created by the Wall; and the complete isolation of Palestinian communities into Bantustans totally cut off from each other. What has been happening in Jayyus should thus be seen in the larger context of this new set of Occupation plans, and at the same time, the Campaign called for resistance to these plans.

International guests also addressed the people in Jayyus, emphasizing the responsibility of people throughout the world to act in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, and noting that there are millions of people throughout the world who are finding ways to resist their own governments’ complicity in the crimes being committed in Jayyus and throughout Occupied Palestine.

After the community meeting, participants marched to one of the locked gates that separate the people of Jayyus from their land that has been isolated by the Wall. Several jeeps full of Occupation Forces were on hand, and refused to open the gates or allow access to the isolated land. Undaunted, the people of Jayyus joined with international visitors to plant several olive tree saplings on land next to the Apartheid Wall. The planting of a few small olive trees is a small gesture in a context where tens of thousands or trees have been, and continue to be, uprooted by Occupation Forces. But it symbolizes the continuing resistance of the people of Jayyus, like people throughout Palestine facing the Occupation plans for their total demise: a symbol of their refusal to be uprooted from their land.