QARYOUT: Palestinian popular struggle spreads 19Feb12 February 19, 2012

Alternative Information Centre  -  12 February 2012

On Friday, I attended with other comrades the [new] weekly protest in the Palestinian village of Qaryout, south of Nablus. Qaryout joined the popular resistance last Friday. In the past, the village held numerous marches and protests to resist the occupation and the settlements. This time, they are hoping to persist with the weekly protest.

After losing our way for a while, we arrived to Qaryout–a beautiful village located on a beautiful green area. The only environmental hazard there is the Israeli colonies.

Because we arrived a little before the start of the rally, we had the chance to hear some local leaders discuss the village and see some videos and pictures from last week.

Qaryout is home to 2800 residents. 68% of its land has been confiscated to the advantage of the surrounding three Israeli settlements: Shilo, Eli, and Shvut Rachel as well as the outpost of Adei Ad.

While protesting in Palestinian villages often means risking one’s life, in Qaryout the risk is double. Settlers, the “landlords” are armed and they walk freely everywhere–dare you talk to them. Sometimes you don’t even need to, they come. According to the villagers, last Wednesday, a settler entered the village with his car, and shot live bullets at a boy, but he did not hit him.

The road to their lands was blocked by the Israeli army; this road connects with the road to the main street, it’s the shortest way for Qaryout people to the main street, however, it’s for settlers use only. Lands on one side of the road are for settlers, the other for the Palestinians. These are the rules.

Last Friday, February 3, Qaryout protestors managed to open it. On Friday, February 10, they hoped to reach their lands in order to plant trees. 

Oftentimes, scores of settlers come to hang around on the remaining lands of Qaryout–land that is still in the villagers’ hands. The settlers are accompanied by the Israeli army.

In Qaryout, you find the absurdity of armed thieves behaving as landlords, while the owners of the lands might reach a level where the occupying army would be there only protection from those terrorists. While we were marching towards the lands, tear gas was shot at us and live bullets were fired into the air. When we got closer we realized it was the settlers who shot. Not the army.

We passed a settlement, and kept going. At some point, a jeep with four our five armed settlers was approaching from behind; they left only after the army went and talked with them so nicely. But the settlers kept coming back and forth.

When we reached the army, who blocked us from approaching the lands, it was absurd; the army negotiating from the front, group of settlers standing and provoking behind them, some armed settlers with guns approaching and provoking from the back, others came down the hill, others stood up on the hill, all armed. It is as if you have to choose, and with those armed terrorists, you don’t want to take risk, they can shoot any moment.

When we couldn’t approach the lands, people planted some trees on the road side. One settler uprooted one, burned it and threw it at protestors. Another settler attacked verbally and almost physically protestors, under the eyes of the soldiers who did nothing.

On the way back to the village, settlers threw stones at us, the young men of the village responded with stones, guess who got the tear gas and rubber bullets?

The essence of apartheid is demonstrated very well in Qaryout: The colonialists walk freely, protected by the occupying army, and they are above the law. Palestinians, the land owners, have no access to their lands, and their rights are stepped on illegally.

This article originally appeared on Abir Kopty’s blog.

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