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From the field

15 July ’09: Growing concern over possible eviction of ‘Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi, a village isolated by the Separation Barrier

The Civil Administration is once again trying to evict the 300 residents of ‘Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi, a Palestinian village southeast of Qalqilya.

In 2002, the Separation Barrier was built west of the village, in order to de facto annex the nearby Alfe Menashe settlement to Israel. In June 2008, Civil Administration officers came to the village and suggested that the residents leave their houses and settle in a location on the other side of the Separation Barrier. The residents refused.

The village of 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi. Photo: Ra'id Mukdi, B'Tselem, 23.6.08
The village of 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi. Photo: Ra'id Mukdi, B'Tselem, 23 June 2008/>

According to the residents, last Friday, 25 June, Civil Administration officers arrived there again, and informed them that the government of Israel intended to expel them, without mentioning the destination. The officers stressed that the residents would “never” receive Civil Administration approval for development of the village.

Map of the restrictions on movement in the area
Map of the restrictions on movement in the area/>

Meanwhile, village residents have reported to B'Tselem that increasingly harsh restrictions are being placed on them. Until two weeks ago, residents crossed checkpoints and gates in the Barrier without delay, using the permits they had been given by the Civil Administration. Now, soldiers require them to stand in the line used by workers entering Israel or the Alfe Menashe settlement, causing them prolonged delay. High-school students, who study outside the village, are now also subjected to lengthy delays. Also, residents are now forbidden to return to the village with poultry and meat bought in Qalqiliya, as the soldiers claim that bringing meat into Israel is prohibited.

‘Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi was established in the 1950s by Palestinian refugees who had been forced, several years earlier, to leave their homes in al-‘Ouja, in the Be'ersheva area. The refugees bought the land from residents of nearby Habla, and registered them under their names in the Land Registry. The villagers live in improvised structures made of tin and thick cloth, without an organized connection to electricity and with no access road or basic community services, such as health and education. Most of the residents used to gain a living from shepherding, but the Separation Barrier has blocked their access to the grazing areas.

At first, the residents tried to continue tending to their flocks by purchasing food as a substitute for grazing them. However, the high cost of fodder forced them to forego this solution. Residents estimate that some 80 percent of them have sold their flocks, losing their source of livelihood. A small number now work in temporary jobs in gardening and cleaning in the Alfe Menashe settlement, and the rest live off the proceeds from the sale of their livestock.

In 2007, the state undertook, before the Israeli High Court of Justice, to ensure the residents' reasonable living conditions. However, not only has Israel done nothing to meet its undertaking, it has even issued orders to demolish some buildings in the village, although the orders have not yet been realized.

A structure marked for demolition in 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi. Photo: Ra'id Mukdi, B'Tselem, 11.7.08
A structure marked for demolition in 'Arab a-Ramadin al-Janubi. Photo: Ra'id Mukdi, B'Tselem, 11 July 2008/>

Building the Separation Barrier within the West Bank severely affected the residents of the village. Israel, as the occupying power, must ensure that the residents can continue to lead their lives as they used to, including reaching their grazing land and moving freely within the West Bank. Relocating them is not a legitimate solution, and forced transfer of residents of occupied territory is absolutely forbidden, constituting a grave breach of international law.