Siege against ‘Azzun ‘Atma tightened as 75 residents are further isolated
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Siege against ‘Azzun ‘Atma tightened as 75 residents are further isolated

Occupation forces have intensified the closure of ‘Azzun ‘Atma, reinforcing the Wall on the southern edge of the village. At least 75 residents are isolated to the east, in addition to agricultural land and structures. Soldiers have also been impeding the movement of isolated residents through the access gates, putting additional strain on the already encircled village.

On 25 January Occupation forces completed a fence, which extends across the southern side of the village, beginning from the Oranlit settlement and terminating at the settlement of Sha’arei Tikva. Soldiers added barbed wire to the 5 km of fencing, erected military watchtowers and replaced the gate with a newer model. Land for this had been confiscated by military order November 2008.

This procedure has heightened isolation of nine homes from the village, home to 75 persons, in addition to a number of workshops and farms. Isolated residents are forced to walk on foot for not less than 200 meters in order to enter or exit the village. They are prohibited from using cars and animals for transportation and are subjected two checks; once when entering the village from the south and once again if they wish to continue out of the village to other parts of the West Bank.

Two new gates have been added to the Wall in the south. The first is established at the southern intersection of ‘Azzun ‘Atma, which was been blocked with earth mounds and cement blocks since 2000. The second gate is near a group of artesian wells.

Around 3,700 dunums of land are cut off from the villages of ‘Azzun ‘Atma, Sanniriya, Beit Amin, az-Zawiya and Masha. This land is irrigated and used for agricultural purposes and includes several greenhouses. Also, an artesian well has been isolated that had been used to maintain the surrounding farms as well as to water animals.

The new construction has been accompanied by increased movement restrictions into and out of the village. The isolated families were put under curfew for several days, and eyewitness reported extensive checks and movement restrictions at the main entrance to the village.

These developments are part of larger campaign of creeping expulsion waged not only against the people of ‘Azzun ‘Atma, but the 76 other localities isolated by the Wall. The increasing pressure created by closure, isolation and restriction is making life increasingly more difficult and unsustainable. If things continue in this manner, the people of ‘Azzun ‘Atma will eventually be forced off their land, facilitating the expansion of the nearby settlements.