This is a view of the Deir Istiya skyline from the walls of the “old city”.
The village of Deir Istiya is one of the West Bank’s largest, in terms of land mass originally including 34000 dunums (8500 acres) of which approximately 900 dunums (225 acres) were built up. Dier Istiya is located SW of Nablas and about 15 km from the Green Line. The community has lost approximately one third of its land to the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and outposts. Outposts are illegal even under Israeli law.
List of losses (date, settlement name, area lost - 4 dunums=1 acre)
-1978, Karne Shomron, 2000 dunums
-1981, Yakir, 3000 dunums
-1982, Emmanuel, 5150 dunums
-1988, Nofim, 500 dunums
-1991, Revava, 1570 dunums
-2000, Gina Shomron, 500 dunums
-2000, an outpost between Karne Shomron and Ginat Shomron, 450 dunums
-2000, another outpost near Revava, 500 dunums
Reported difficulties for the village include:
-reduction of grazing land by 30% as villagers are not allowed on their land which happens to be near a settlement.
-deliberate pumping of waste water into Wadi Qana causing negative impact on the agricultural diversity and the pollution of drinking water.
-closure of much of the agricultural land causing major access problem for plowing, pruning and harvesting.
-ongoing attacks on the villagers by settlers including live ammunition, sound bombs, and beatings
-(unconfirmed by MPT) the release of wild boar which damage the land and crops.
Both members of the MPT 2011 Fall team spent Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 25-26, immersed in the harvest and life of this ancient village. We picked both days and spent the night with a Palestinian family. The following pictures and text share our observations.
We drove to the olive groves in an old truck as the farmer explained that there was a much shorter easier route but they were not allowed to drive that close to the settlement. After a bumpy ride on a very rough road, we started the 10 minute walk to the grove. We were very surprised to be so close to the outpost and also to the settlement of Revava – both clearly visible in the picture.
This is not Wadi Qana as mentioned above but the same process of fouling the land with waste water is practiced in this area. It is hard to express the disgust we felt for a community that would do such to their neighbors’ crop land and for a larger system that would allow such pollution to continue. The water had a slight flow to it indicating that there was an ongoing release of the fluid. But it was basically a putrid stagnant mess of liquid waste. It was impossible to determine what all might be in it.
A tanker truck appeared on the second day and we were told that it would dump bad water to drain into their olive grove. We tried but were not able to confirm that it was dumping.
This lady is trying to harvest some olives from this small tree which is surrounded by filth. We were told this tree would die and saw evidence of other flooded trees having already died. Furthermore, the family reported that too much water prior to harvest negatively impacts the quality and quantity of olive oil.
The picking took place very near the outpost and the settlement. We gained enough altitude to look right down into the outpost.
We were never able to see more than the edges of Revava, the settlement. We were visited by the soldiers and the settlement security. As we were picking during the allowed time, these visits were routine - "no problem" as our Hebrew speaking farmer was inclined to say.
Our landlords reported to us that wild pigs have been released to damage crops in the plains of Huwwara and that a lady was recently hospitalized after being attacked by one. When picking in Jammain, the men said they saw one and chased it off by throwing stones. Wild pigs (boars as they are often called in the USA)can be a huge problem. We are not able to give you an eyewitness account, but the farmer also said, “See the damage that pigs have done to the ground and to this tree.”
We often see a very small scat which all of the folks have said is gazelle. I asked about this much larger scat and was told, “Pig”.
It appears that the wild pig/boar is indigenous to Israel/Palestine. There does not seem to be any clear evidence that anybody has intentionally released them. There is thought that the wall has effected their migration and Israeli army report have shown skyrocketing populations in some areas.
The farmers are not allowed into the groves before 8:00 AM (no picking in the cool hours of the morning even though it is light enough by 6:00) and must be out or moving in that direction by 4:00 PM. Here is the farmer and one MPTer walking out to the truck past the outpost at the end of the day. After dinner a young family member drove us to meet our taxi and said, "They steal our olives; they foul our water; we have nothing left but the air we breathe. Thank you for coming. You give us hope.”