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Carol Archer, Birzeit University, 15 April 2004
Munira Amer lives with her husband, Hani, and their six children in a house in Mas’ha, in the northwest of Salfit district of Palestine. This is a house with a difference since it is surrounded on all four sides by barbed wire fences and the concrete Apartheid Wall.
Elkana settlement is situated to the west of the house a few meters beyond a three meter high wire fence with a four meter barbed wire on top (the settlement is in the background behind Munira in photo 205). A second barbed wire fence surrounds the house from the south and a third one from the north. Munira looks out from the front of her house onto the 10 meter high concrete Apartheid Wall, approximately 15 meters to the east, which finally encloses and isolates the house from the rest of the village. Their land is on the other side of the Wall so that they are now separated from their greenhouses.
It is Saturday and the Israeli soldiers are not on guard but are in the settlement so we venture near the house, tentatively at first making sure no one is in danger. Munira and her son Itzhaq, who is 12 years old, come to talk to us. She tells us that she would like to invite us in for coffee and tea but they are not allowed to let people in through the gate, only the family who live in the house are able to enter.
In order to get out of this enclosure, which is nothing more than a prison, she has been provided with keys to the gate, adjacent to the Apartheid wall, which she can open to allow her children to go to school and return home and through which her husband goes to work twice a week.
The gate is wired to an Israeli Military Station nearby so their every movement in and out can be monitored. This gate is one of two which this family have to go through in order to be able to start on their journey to school or work. The other gate is part of the barriers which provide ‘security’ for the settlers who have illegally occupied this land and are guarded by the Israeli Military.
This family are not guaranteed access to their land, work place or school beyond these gates because the Israeli Military have the power to allow them through or deny them exit. When the children go to and return from school they all have to leave at the same time and they are not allowed back through the gate until they have all returned together from school. One of Munira’s daughters was kept waiting in the rain recently until all her siblings had returned from school despite the fact that she was unwell, cold and crying. When the family have been short of supplies and denied exit by the soldiers through the gate to the shops to buy provisions, Munira told us that neighbours have had to throw food and water over the fence for them.
This family is experiencing unbearable living conditions, as are many Palestinian people, as Israel continues to build the Apartheid Wall. The Wall is not being built on, or near the Green Line but instead it cuts deep into the West Bank and further expands Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and resources. The Palestine Land Development Information Systems (PALDIS) for PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign map shows the Wall’s latest path of devastation and ghettoization of the West Bank. Finalized in November 2003, their latest map reveals that if completed in its entirety, nearly 50% of the West Bank population will be affected by the Wall though the loss of their land, imprisonment into ghettos, isolation into de facto annexed areas by Israel. This is in effect making a Palestinian State unviable.
This is the Apartheid Wall that is being built under the pretext of “Israel’s security”.
Carol Archer is an international student at Birzeit University on the Palestine and Arabic Studies Program.