My name is Muhamed Khaled Abdallah Tari Qandeel from Beit Surik. I’m 42 years old and my family comprises 14 people, the eldest of my children being 22 years old and the youngest 5 years.

I used to be the mayor of Beit Surik. When the Occupation forces sent us the confiscation orders for the Wall, it was a big catastrophe for the entire village. It meant taking away all our land, transforming the village into a refugee camp. As the mayor of Beit Surik, I have been responsible for the people’s fate that elected me - it was my responsibility to do my best to avoid this catastrophe. I worked as hard as I could at all levels. I established contacts with the Palestinian and international Human Rights organizations and worked every day with the lawyers that defended our people in court. I have been participating in the protests that have been organized in the village, and after long months of our people’s resistance, we finally achieved a resolution from the Occupation court to change the path of the wall. In July 2004, the court ordered that planted land should not be uprooted and the Wall’s path should not affect the livelihoods of farmers and villagers. Our people have been working and reclaiming their land to defend it from the Occupation. But the Occupation court decision was worth nothing and made things even worse. The resolution did say not to affect the planted lands but it was saying nothing else, so this resolution was used against us. The military had decided to turn against me personally as I have taken my responsibility as mayor in defending our village seriously.


Right after the court decision, they started uprooting my land for the Wall’s new path. My land is situated in the middle of its path – the only reason why they started from the middle was to retaliate against me and to intimidate whoever else wants to resist the Occupation. My land was planted with olive and almond trees as well as grapes. I carried the resolution and went to the soldiers who were working there in order to stop the uprooting of my trees. In response, they beat me very badly and then they arrested me.

At the military camp, they claimed that I hit one of the soldiers in the face - a big lie. I wasn’t even able to complete my argument against the uprooting of my trees, when they hit me and arrested me. They kept me in the Occupation detention camp for 23 days. Within the first three days, they held a court hearing that stipulated I had to pay 12,000 Shekels for being beaten, and then they would release me. In the end, the Occupation decided to continue my arrest. Only after the fourth court hearing did they release me (the end of May this year), still imposing a bail of 12,000 Shekels and a house arrest order that is extended until today.

Being kept under house arrest since that point has left me miles behind in my work and in being able to provide for my family.

As I told you, I used to be mayor. But this was not a paid position, so I was working in construction to earn my living. The house arrest order came at the same time with the counsel elections. It is evident that the Occupation didn’t want me to be mayor again. They constrained me in my home so that I couldn’t do any electoral campaigning within the village. The people know the situation I am in, so they know that I will not be able to work like before. They also worked in the village against me. I had no chance to continue my responsibility as a mayor.

Further, I am not able to work while I am under house arrest. I got many offers to continue to work as a constructor, but I can’t do it. My son was studying at Birzeit University but he had to drop his studies in the middle of the semester because I can’t give him the money to pay for the transportation to the university. Neither could I pay the university fees anymore. This has hit him very badly. I was forced to do the same with my other son who was studying at Qalandiya technical college. My eldest son is engaged since one year and a half but he can’t get married as we are not able to pay for the costs of the celebration and to help him to establish his home. My other children at school need daily expenses which I am not able to pay for. Our youngest daughter, Muna may be forced to leave school because we weren`t able to pay the fees this year. Every day they send me messages asking for the payment of the fees. With the stores in the village I have made debts that amount by now to 6000 Jordanian dinars, not to talk about the debts with friends and relatives. I’m dying every day when I look at my daughters and sons while I can’t do any thing to them. Do you know what this mean to stay at home with all these responsibilities?


The Palestinian authority has issued many documents promising me work I can do from my house but I didn’t see any thing of it. Only promises. The people from the village signed at paper and sent it to the PA calling on them to find me job as I was a very hard worker when I was the mayor. Nothing happened, only promises.

Before they arrested me, I was living from my work in the construction field but I had as well 20 dunums of land with olive trees and almonds and grapes. I used to get 1000 Jordanian dinars every year for this land – but now there is the Wall running right through it. The wall path does not go straight but zigzags through our land. They made a curve just where they could take my land. The Occupation wants to destroy the other 20 dunums I own. I used to get 500 Jordanian dinars every year for it. But the wall will isolate it from the village and we will not have any permission to go there.

Now every month, I am forced to go to Ofer military court where they expand the house arrest order. They want to tell me “We destroyed you and we watch your steps and we know every thing you do.”


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