Janoun under threat

25 January 2004

Three of us from Scotland went to Yanoun yesterday. It is a beautiful little West Bank village in hills north-east of Jerusalem, not far from Nablus. A small international presence is maintained here, to which four Women in Black from Scotland contributed towards the end of last year. The reason for the peace activists' presence is that the village is under constant threat from settlers living on the surrounding hills.

A young farmer, ‘Fadi,’ told us about an episode he was involved in last July. He was woken by the noise of settlers driving his 150 sheep up towards the settlement. When he appeared, two settlers pointed their guns at him. He shouted for other villagers to help. His brother and cousins came out and threw stones to turn the sheep towards the village.

Upper Janoun's water tanks, recently damaged by settlers

Four more settlers appeared. One hit a simple-minded boy from the village with a gun. Fadi ran at the the settler with a stick to drive him away from the boy. Another settler shot Fadi in the foot. He was taken to hospital on a donkey, having refused an offer from the settlers to be taken to an Israeli hospital by ambulance because he feared he might be beaten up and arrested. He was dischaged after a few days and fortunately has made a complete recovery.

The settlers first arrived in 1993. All the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. For the first three years they behaved civilly and took tea in the villagers’ houses from time to time. The first violence was in 1996 when settlers beat an old man causing the loss of one eye.

Shortly after the start of the current intifada in 2000, settlers stole 40 sheep from a nearby village. Last year there were attempts to steal sheep from Yanoun. Two years ago, 150 sheep were deliberately killed by settlers who scattered a toxic fertilizer, subsequently identified by tests, on their grazing land. Settlers also destroyed the generator on which Yanoun relied on for electricity, and have poluted the village water supply.

Shortly after the beginning of the intifada, the eight families living in upper Yanoon left the village because of settler violence, but five families have returned. Fadi said that the villagers very much welcome the internationals. Their presence ameliorates settler attempts to drive the villagers out of Yanoun as the settlers know that news of their crimes will reach the outside world.

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