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Awarta: Lost half its land

Awarta, a village with a population of over 6000, lies about 5 miles southeast of Nablus. Originally the village covered 5000 acres; however, the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar confiscated 3000 acres, leaving the village with less than half its land. The village may have burial sites for various rather obscure Hebrew prophets which has been the excuse for settlers to invade the village for prayers at the burial sites. The Israeli Occupation Forces [IOF ] then enter to protect the settlers. A recent agreement gave settlers the legal right to pray at the sites two nights yearly.

Part of Awarta is in area B [Palestinian civil authority and Israeli military control] and part is area C [full Israeli military control] under the Oslo Accords. No construction can be done in Area C, although families already live in the area. Water for the village is controlled by the Itamar settlement and villagers have to buy their water from the settlement.

[Village health clinic. Village council, municipal building on second floor.]

Last fall, a man was killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces [IOF} as he was driving from his land where he no longer had Israeli permission to be. In March two young men from the village were killed. The information regarding the circumstances of their deaths changed often the first few days after their deaths. The location of their deaths changed – in the checkpoint near Awarta or in a field nearby, or in a field further away, or . . . The reason for killing them changed also – carrying metal to sell while passing though the checkpoint, in the field using a shovel against soldiers or . . . People from a nearby village told
MPTers that the two young men were planting olive trees on the Palestinian side of a settler road and that settlers tied them up and shot them several times. Perhaps someday the truth of their deaths will come out. No one has been charged with the deaths of these two youths. In the past five years 20 persons have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers.

MPTers were warmly welcomed in a visit with a member of the Awarta village council in the municipal building. MPT visits are made to inform authorities of the work of MPT and MPT’s availability to work in areas of risk - near settlements during plowing and the fall olive harvest, or during times when settlers or soldiers invade the village.

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