Ann Farr writes: Heartbreaking news from Yanoun, near Nablus, (on the West Bank) the tiny and very poor village I served in as an Ecumenical Accompanier. We have just heard that illegal Israeli settlers have stolen even more of their land:
Ultra Palestine report: "Settlers placed new caravans on lands of Yanoun village in Nablus, last night.
Rashed Murar, representative of Yanoun village, in the municipality of Aqraba, said that settlers from the settlement outpost '777' ploughed new lands near the settlement, and then at one o'clock in the middle of last night, they set up two mobile homes on the northern lands of the village.
Murar told Ultra Palestine that adding these houses would tighten the screws on the people of the village, which has become more like a prison. "They are not allowed to move away from the last house in the village except for ten meters, adding,
"No one cares about us, and there may come a day when you will not find anyone in Yanoun".
He explained that the land area of the village exceeds 16 thousand dunams of which the occupation confiscated about 90%, and today it is surrounded by settlements on all sides.
The village of Yanoun is currently inhabited only by 36 people.
Murar pointed out that the people of the village depend on sheep herding and agriculture, but the confiscation of land and the tightening of the access on the shepherds lead them to buy expensive fodder instead of grazing, which causes them heavy losses, to the point of threatening the demise of the village in the event that the confiscation of its lands continues.
Ann Farr served on the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in the tiny farming village of Yanoun, near Nablus in the North of the West Bank.
The village is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlement outposts from the settlement of Itamar who have steadily been stealing the village land, so that the families are barely able to sustain a living.
Ann writes: "In October 2002 the villagers were forcibly removed from their homes after extreme violence from the armed Israeli settlers. Israeli peacemakers came to live in the village and, with their encouragement, many of the villagers returned. The empty houses in the village are testimony to the fact that many have been too frightened to return. Later EAPPI undertook to maintain a permanent, international, protective presence in the village.
"During our time in the village the team, as well as monitoring the surrounding villages and the Jordan Valley, would constantly keep watch on the situation in the village, walking the 'boundaries' each day. These boundaries were set by the Israeli Military and the Settlement Leader after the villagers returned. You cannot see these boundaries but you quickly learn where they are - the level of the rocks behind the houses, the big stone on the pathway to the valley and the edges of the fields in the lower valley. To cross these can mean being shot at, violently harassed or physically attacked by settlers, the settler security guards or the Israeli military.
Ecumenical Accompaniers not only provide a protective presence but monitor the daily violations of international law and denial of human rights, reporting them all to the UN and their own governments. They also engage in advocacy to raise awareness of the reality of Palestinians life under occupation and campaign, with Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers, for equality and justice for all.
"The theft of land that has been reported today, is a further violation of international law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, no occupying power is permitted to put its own people on the land it occupies. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal and settlement outposts are illegal under both international and Israeli law.
"The creeping Israeli annexation of Palestine is totally ignored by world governments and so tiny villages, like Yanoun, are squeezed to the point when it is impossible for them to survive.
"Those of us who served in the village are very close to the families and know them very well. We are deeply saddened by all that has happened to them and even more so by this latest development. We are also frustrated that, because of COVID 19, we cannot be in the village with them. We call on the UK Government to strongly condemn this further theft of land in Yanoun and to take action to call Israel to account for this and all its violations of international law.
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