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Azzun Part II: the effects of occupation

Two MPTers and members of the International Solidarity Movement returned to the village of Azzun, to hear about their current situation under the occupation. Of the 12,000 residents in Azzun, 71 adults and an additional 22 children under the age of 18 are in jail. There are also 12,000 refugees from Azzun living outside of the West Bank, who were displaced during the 1948 war.

(click to enlarge this map of the area)

In addition to the individual problems villagers of Azzun face, there are also a number of issues the village faces as a whole because of the occupation. Israel’s separation barrier and illegal settlements have confiscated 9,000 dunums of village land. Currently a greenhouse and a kindergarten are scheduled to be demolished.

The illegal settlements surrounding the village, Zufin to the northwest, Alfe Menashe to the west and Ma’ale Shomerom to the east have created a number of problems. The sewage and garbage from the illegal settlements have polluted Azzun’s water tables. Bir Zeit University conducted water tests and found high levels of lead. Employees at the Office of Agriculture in Azzun told MPT that they believe there is a correlation between the high level of lead found in the water supply and the high number of residents diagnosed with stomach, breast and throat cancer.

In addition to Azzun, the nearby village of ‘Izbat at Tabib is under threat of losing half of its residents’ homes (23 out of 45 homes are scheduled to be demolished). The suspected reason for the demolitions in ‘Izbat at Tabib and Azzun, is the construction of an Israeli-only road which would connect the surrounding settlements to each other and to Israel proper. This road would also cut through the main road to the Palestinian city of Nablus, forcing vehicles to drive out of the way in order to enter this urban center. Recently, villagers of ‘Izbat at Tabib have been denied access to their agricultural lands while settlers accompanied by the army, have been increasingly seen perusing the area for hours at a time.

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