264 Palestinians Forced From Their Homes…Again

2 November 2007

The 264 residents of the area of Al-Qasa, near Idhna and the Tarqumiya checkpoint, originally came from the village of Beit Jibrin, on what became the Israeli side of the Green Line in 1948. Many of the residents still remember when they first came to Al-Qasa, 50 years ago. The land of Al-Qasa, which is less than half a kilometer inside the West Bank from the Green Line, was donated to the families who were forced from Beit Jibrin, which is now the site of the Israeli town beit Shemesh when they became refugees of An-Nakba–the catastrophe. For 50 years 10 families have lived in caves and semi-permanent homes, raised their children and sheep, and have lived what they describe as a ‘peaceful life’. Then, just over 2 years ago, the Israeli military laid out their plan for the construction of the Annexation Barrier in the area around Idhna and Tarqumiya. Al-Qasa was planned to be in what is politely called “the seam zone”–the land that is between the Annexation Barrier and the Green Line. The 264 refugees were living in a ‘no-man’s land’, not inside Israel, but cut off from the rest of the 1967 Occupied Territories by the 700 kilometer wall/fence that has become the de facto borders of the West Bank. As construction began, the residents faced more and more harassment by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Eventually, the children were prevented from walking into the town of Idhna to attend school. 3 months ago, the IOF stole the tractor the residents used to transport food from Idhna to their homes.

As the Israeli squeeze began to tighten, residents wondered what would happen to them once the Annexation Barrier was finished. Four days ago, the construction was completed, and they found out.
At approximately 8 am dozens of Israeli soldiers and 2 bulldozers arrived in the area and the soldiers informed the residents that they had 6 hours to pack their belongings and leave. Yisra Ahmed Alnatah, 60, recounted through her tears how the soldiers shouted over and over again in arabic, “barra! Barra!”, “get out!” “get out!” Israeli forces used percussion grenades and told the residents that if they did not leave, they would set fire to everything, “the sheep, the homes, the olive trees, and the Palestinians.” As the residents fled towards Idhna, the soldiers dragged everything out of the houses that teh residents weren’t able to carry, and the two CATERPILLAR bulldozers began to demolish the nearly 40 homes.

The 264 refugees from Beit Jibrin and now Al-Qasa are living in homes throughout Idhna, where most if not all are paying rent, an incredibly temporary situation. PSP is attempting to raise money to hire a lawyer and provide emergency aide to the refugees.

Money can be donated through our website, or via check to our fiscal sponsor in the United States. Please email us if you can help with donations of money or other essentials.

We will update everyone as we have more information as to their legal situation and ways people can support.