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From the field

An amusement park in Al-Badhan next to Nablus was closed following restrictions of movement imposed by the IDF, Nov. 2006

Baslan Al-Fares, owner of an

amusement park

Baslan Al-Fares

My cousin, 'Abd a-Salam al-Fares, and I own an amusement park called "Alshalalat", on road 57, the main road between Nablus and Al-Badhan.

Until the second Intifada, many people from the West Bank as well as Arabs from Israel would come to our park and the profits were good. We worked between March and September and our income was about 300,000 NIS . We lived a dignified life on this income for the entire year. With the outbreak of the second Intifada, the situation changed. The Israeli army closed the main road that connected Al-Badhan to Nablus and placed four mounds of dirt on it, each one about 3 meters high. Residents of Nablus , who live about 3 kilometers from Al-Badhan, have not been able to come to the town by car since then.

Initially, it was possible to cross this road by foot. The soldiers stood next to the dirt mounds and checked the ID cards and belongings of the visitors, and after a few hours delay let them pass. After a few months, the army prohibited passage by foot and stationed soldiers on the hill overlooking the main road between Al-Badhan and Nablus . A military jeep was placed on site 24 hours a day. The soldiers chased people who crossed the road, beat them, and sometimes even shot at them. In 2006, Zakaria Daraghmeh was shot to death while crossing this road.

Many people suffer now because of this closure - students studying in Nablus , clerks working in the city, or patients who want to get to Nablus to receive treatment. It is now possible to get to Nablus only on dirt roads that twist and bend for 15 kilometers. These roads are damaged and full of potholes. The travel is very expensive, very time consuming, and very hard, especially during the winter months when it's cold and rainy.

Waiting in line at al-Badhan checkpoint. Photo: 'Atef Abu a-Rub, B'Tselem.
Waiting in line at al-Badhan checkpoint. Photo: 'Atef Abu a-Rub, B'Tselem./>

Because of the difficulties in reaching Al-Badhan, people have stopped coming to the park and we were forced to close it. In order to reach the park from Ramallah, for example, it would require passing 4 checkpoints: 'Atara, Za'atara, Huwara, and Al-Badhan. It's a continuous nightmare that takes an entire day and is not a pleasant trip.

Al-Badhan is known as a nice place to spend time in nature. There are many parks and streams here, and families used to always come to spend time here. Now, because of all the road closures, people can't come anymore and the place is desolate.

veryday, my cousin and I go to our park. We sit there for a few hours and reminisce about the days before the Intifada. We miss those days and pray for their return. Today, we no longer have a business. I have searched for another job but have not found one. In the small town we live in there are no sources of employment. I have three brothers who work in the Gulf states and they send me money so I can support my family. I feel that I am a burden on them and it pains me very much, but I don't know what else I can do.

Baslan Al-Fares, 44, married and father of four, is an owner of amusement park and a resident of the village of Al-Badhan in Nablus district. His testimony taken by Salma a-Deb'i in the local council of Al-Badhan on 29 November, 2006.