Wednesday, March 15, 2006
A beautiful spring day. The almond trees are blossoming. Wild flowers blooming. The vibrant green of new growth. Olive trees. Shepherds wandering with their flocks. Hens clucking. The road winds up the steep hill to the village of Yanun, half an hour drive outside Nablus. It appears peaceful and idyllic. The reality is starkly different.
Yanun is a small village of 13 families. 1984 marked the beginning of Itamar settlement, just 10 km from Yanun. It is inhabited by Israeli religious fundamentalists, who claim the land is theirs, given to them by God. The settlement expanded into the outposts- caravans, trailers and a watchtower- strategically positioned on the hilltops surrounding Yanun maximizing their vantage point and power.
Enough was enough. In 2002 virtually the whole village left, no longer able to take the constant harassment and violence inflicted on them from the settlers. Since 1996, when the outposts began, the people of Yanun had been subjected to ongoing and increasingly violent attacks, from the armed settlers. They left on mass, mostly to the nearby town of Aqraba, in the hope things would calm down and they would be able to return after a couple of months.
Within days some of the villagers returned along with Israeli and international activists. A continuous international presence has been maintained in Yanun since 2002, and with this the return of the villagers.
The people of Yanun are still prevented from reaching their land, are not free to wander the hills and live constantly in the shadow of the outposts. Armed settlers continue to walk through the village and the people of Yanun are subject to ongoing threats and attack.
All was quiet during my overnight visits, filling in for EAPPI who now maintain the international presence. I felt refreshed by the beautiful countryside and enjoyed the hospitality of our neighbours. Sitting by the woodstove drinking small cups of strong Arabic coffee and sweet mint tea, touched by their quiet radiant strength, their smiles and their kindness.
The Occupation manifests in many ways. I am slowly understanding and seeing more of the spectrum of Occupation and the interconnection and interdependence of the many forms. I am learning more of the many forms of non-violent resistance, in the case of Yanun refusing to be driven from their land and homes.