Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Azzun Atma resists construction of new separation wall

By Tadas Blinda - June 25, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Azzun Atma] [Qalqylia] [Settlement Expansion] [the Wall]

Demonstrators gather to pray oustide the Azzun-Beit Amin school on Friday 21 June 2013. Credit - Tadas Blinda
The first demonstration against Israel’s construction of its 'Separation Wall’ on land belonging to the Azzun – Beit Amin School was held in the village of Azzun Atma on Friday 21 June. Just a few days earlier, on 18 June, bulldozers accompanied by Israeli army jeeps and border police began preparation work for the wall’s construction in the eastern garden of the school, land which borders Israel’s Sha’are Tiqva settlement.

Around 100 people from Azzun Atma, Beit Amir and Sanniriya villages gathered in the Azzun – Beit Amin School’s courtyard on Friday morning, where they proceeded to hold midday prayers. Following the prayers, the villagers marched around the school to the place where, several days earlier, bulldozers had dug up school land. The group hung Palestinian flags on the barbed-wire fence separating Azzun Atma from the Sha’are Tiqva settlement. 

“Today people from Sanniriya, Beit Amin and Azzun Atma came here and held their Friday prayers to give a message for the Israelis and for the entire world that we will stay here in our school and we will do everything we can to stop construction of the wall,” Jamal Ayyoud, Headmaster of the Azzun – Beit Amin School, told Palestine Monitor. 
The Azzun - Beit Amin School (foreground) with the Israeli settlement of Sha'are Tiqva behind.
The Azzun-Beit Amin School (foreground) with the Israeli settlement of Sha'are Tiqva in the background. Credit - Tadas Blinda
A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli army entered Azzun Atma and put up signs stating where the new separation wall would be built within the village. Israeli authorities are set to confiscate about 1.5 dunums of land from Azzun - Beit Amin School in order to build the new wall. 300 boys and girls from Azzun Atma and Beit Amin are studying in the school which employs 25 teachers. Although the school board has no clue as to when construction will actually begin, the process will most likely disrupt next year’s classes. 
Construction of the new wall is not the only problem the local school is facing. Sewage from the Sha’are Tiqva settlement is pumped down straight into the school land, located right in front of the current separation fence. The school has been suffering from this problem for about 4-5 years now. 
“The main problem is the sewage problem. Every two or three weeks sewage comes down to our gardens in the school,” says Jamal Ayyoub. 
The village of Azzun Atma, on the south east of Qalqilya, is completely controlled by the Israeli military and is located in the so called 'seam zone’, the area between the separation barrier and the green line. The village is surrounded by an Israeli wall, built in 2002 to separate it from Sha’are Tiqva and Orenim settlements. The only way in our out of the village is through a military checkpoint in the northern part of the village.
Children from the neighbouring village of Beit Amin also attend the school in Azzun Atma. Many teachers live outside the village as well.  Israeli soldiers often restrict the movement of people living inside and outside of the village, often preventing teachers and students from reaching the school.
“Sometimes they [the Israeli soldiers] don’t allow teachers to cross the checkpoint and sometimes they don’t allow students from Beit Amin to come to the school,” says Ayyoub.
Azzun Atma lost 1,200 dunums of land to the Sha’are Tiqva settlement and another 1,500 dunums to the Orenim settlement as a consequence of the separation wall built back in 2002. The erection of the barrier has led to increased difficulty in transporting goods to and from Azzun Atma, mainly agricultural goods and crops that are the main source of income for locals. Construction of the latest edition of the wall means further confiscation of private Palestinian land and further isolation of Azzun Atma from the rest of the West Bank.
Jamal Ayyoub told the Palestine Monitor that, from now on, a demonstration will be held every Friday. Ayyoub affirms that the people from Azzun Atma and the surrounding villages will continue to resist against Israel’s construction of the new wall, as well as its ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.
“This was the first demonstration, the second one will be more effective,” Ayyoub added.

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