[Yanoun, July 1, 2003 ] - On June 29th, fellow Bostonian Ben Scribner, an elderly Canadian peace activist named Louie, and myself slept in Yanoun, a small, isolated village of about a hundred residents south east of Nablus. At 11:00 pm the villages electrical generator (which is turned on for about 3 and a half hours a day), was shut down and the result was near total darkness. Both streetlights and houses went dark and the village was engulfed in silence.
The evenings in Yanoun had been quiet and peaceful for many hundreds of years. But today, it is now disturbed by the encroachment of forces just beyond the village. Indeed, a massive string of bright lights emanate from the nearby Israeli settlements that surround the village on 3 sides. Not only do these lights remain on for 24 hours a day (while the Palestinians can only afford to have electricity 3.5 hours a day), the settlement also uses powerful search lights which illuminate massive areas in the village and the surrounding areas.
Instead of the peacefulness of the dark, search lights scan over the village landscape keeping a watchful eye on the Palestinians of Yanoun, who have not once attacked or even approached the settlements.
The result of the search lights, as well as the guard towers occupied by armed private Israeli security forces is intimidating. They have the power to watch the Palestinians, but the Palestinians do not have the power to watch the Israelis.
Like many other villages scattered throughout the West Bank, the families who live in the village of Yanoun have lived here for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Only in recent history, however, these ancient villages became increasingly at risk of disappearing forever.
A combination of complimentary forces are quietly working to convince the residents that they would be better off elsewhere. Forces which include the large and violent settler (colonist) population nearby, economic difficulties imposed on them by the occupation, which includes the near impossiblity of travel due to road closures, check points and curfews.
Our Boston delegation has agreed to commit itself to maintain a regular presence in this village for at least 3 weeks. It is believed that the very act of just being present in Yanoun has allowed the villagers to ontinue living there and thus preventing its disappearance.
Both international and Israeli human right activists have maintained such a presence here since Yanoun was violently attacked in October of 2002. In one particular incident that month, a large group of settlers had surrounded a house and threatened to return that evening and kill everyone in the village. The villagers considered the threat credible. Attacks on villagers had been occurring with greater frequency over the previous months. The settlers had set fire and burning down the village electric generator. Upper Yanoun proceeded to completely evacuate.
The settlers quickly seized land in the village and began to plow it. This land remains in the hands of the settlers to this day.
Attacks by the settlers on this village were also common before the expulsion in October of 2002. A few examples:
The oldest man in the village being beaten with sticks and pelted with large stones and left for dead in an olive field. The result was the loss of one eye.
In May, 2002, Samiah (20 years old) and Ramia (14 years old) were working on their fields when they were approached by 25 settlers who beat them with their rifles. One of them has received permanent injuries from the attack and which now prevents him from being able to perform normal labor.
The mayor Abu Latief had his house broken into and was beaten resulting in deep scars on his face.
On may 17th, 2002, a man named Ghassan was shot in the leg while he was working in his fields.
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