April 16th, MPT and IWPS went with the mayor and 2 other village officials of Deir Istiya to the Wadi Qana, a beautiful winding valley with quality water sources. The land had been inaccessible to the Palestinians for ten years. Israeli settlers and soldiers have prohibited Palestinians from entering the valley where illegal Israeli settlements were build on the surrounding hillsides. Settlers damaged natural springs and reservoirs by duping cement and rubbish into them. Recently Deir Istiya villagers began a road into the area. The bulldozer was stopped by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), but negotiating is continuing with the IOF with the hope that the road and water restoration can continue.
This Friday, a day off, a young Palestinian group, some graduates of European and American universities came to help with the restoring and reclaiming of the area for future fruit groves for Palestinians. This included cleaning up the water sources.
To reclaim Palestinian land is an act of resistance and a constant struggle. Palestinians may have several days of peaceful work and then Israeli soldiers or settlers come to harass or stop the work. Continued negotiating with the IOF is also necessary.
As MPT and IWPS walked left the valley on the newly bulldozed road, the Deir Istiya mayor spoke of his strong commitment to nonviolence. He is a very capable and very wise man whose leadership in his village is remarkable.