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Deir Istya: a special village

Deir Istya is a village of approximately 4,000 inhabitants, located in the Salfit district approximately 15 kilometers east of the Green Line.
Deir Istya has the largest land area in the Halfit Governorate and the second largest in the West Bank after Tubas.In total, Deir Istya’s land is about 34,000 dunums. Since the beginning of the occupation Deir Istya has lost about 20,000 dunums.
The oldest settlement around Deir Istya is Karnei Shomron, which was built on a former Jordanian military camp. Subsequently Immanuel, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank, and Yakir, Ma’ale Shomron, Ginot Shomron, Novim and Neveh Menachem were built. Another settlement, Revava, built on the land of Hares village, has expanded onto Deir Istya land. Land was expropriated by fraud , for example, asking landowners to sign papers that they thought were for travel permits, but which in reality were contracts giving away their land. After 1967, many people started to work in Israel, because it was more remunerative and for some years they did not use their land. In these cases, the Israeli authorities expropriated land under the pretext of Ottoman law relating to uncultivated land, or land designated by the British as nature reserves.

In this uncertain situation – when nobody knows how the village border will look like - it is very hard to think about development. The village is part of a newly created Joint Services Council, made up of five surrounding villages and hoping to achieve some infrastructural developments in the near future.
The village council maintains a very good relationship with EAPPI (World Council of Churches project), the Peace Now Movement (Israeli), Physicians for Human Rights (Israeli) and the International Women`s Peace Service (IWPS). IWPS is located in this village and has an excellent relationship with the village. Despite the seemingly improved living conditions of the villagers, Mr.Nathmi Salman, the Mayor of the village, stated clearly that every Palestinian is affected by the occupation, and the population does not have other choice than popular resistance.
According to Mr. Salman, the situation in the village is not as tense anymore, like it was in the past. There are fewer conflicts between the settlers, villagers and the IOF, although approximately two weeks ago five youths were taken from their homes, accused by the army of throwing rocks at the soldiers. The village has a long history in dealing with the Israeli occupation and its consequences. IWPS has worked with the village to document all kinds of human rights abuses and violations, like; shootings; farmers harassed while farming their land; army incursions; curfews; arrests; property damages; collective punishments.
IWPS and MPT work together at various times. This village is exceptional in many ways.
(the source of the information can be found in IWPS “village profiles” and from a personal interview with Mr. Nathmi Salman, Mayor of Deir Istya)

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