Climbing up the road behind our Huwwara home we located a village park with a Ferris Wheel and a swimming pool. The houses in this area are the highest in town and the closest to Yitzhar.
We were told that “of all the settlements in the West Bank Yitzhar is the worst.” We’ve heard that said before about other settlements. It sometimes seems that the worst settlement is the one nearest the village where the speaker lives. Yitzhar did make the news recently. The Israeli government closed their high school because they were teaching violence. It is an incredible story. It can be found at http://www.haaretz.com/print-e
This is the view above the park. You can just see the edge of some Yitzhar buildings and some of the burned olive trees. "They destroy trees and harass us. They want to claim even more of the land." we were told.
We were up there hoping to meet with an American family who lives in nearby. Good fortune was with us. We ended up sitting in a fabulous house speaking with two Palestinian Americans from New York and Ohio. (Homes in this area have been attacked by settlers. That story will appear in a day or two when we are able to complete the interviews.) The home on the left in the following picture is where we met the American family.
As we shared stories and food one of the men spoke about Palestinians who are still able to travel to Israel to work. There are some but the number is so much lower than before the construction of the barrier fence/wall. “Many used to go. We worked together. I would go to eat with the Jews and they came to my house. We were friends.” said one man. He went on to share that the opportunities to meet and relate with Israelis is greatly decreased. The only Israelis nearby are the settlers of Yitzhar. In the early days even they were ok. “We used to drive up the hill near Yitzhar to picnic. There is a Muslim holy place there. You can see the ocean from there. Going there now is impossible.”
The barrier fence/wall was constructed to decrease the number of suicide bombers, to make it difficult for Palestinians to travel into Israel. The barrier has come at a tremendous cost. The loss of contact makes it harder for these neighbors to be in positive relationships. It is costly financially. Much land is loss. Travel is more difficult for everyone. Maintaining and protecting this hated structure keeps the military busy. The barrier fence/wall is a strategy to end these attacks but Robert Pape, co-author of “Cutting the Fuse” has a different idea. In a nut shell studies show that suicide bombing decreases to almost zero when a foreign occupying army ends the occupation. Read more details at http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2010/10/04/how-end-suicide-bombings-new-book-argues-problem-not-islam-lengthy-military-occup
END THE OCCUPATION ? Now that seems like a strategy worthy of consideration.