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Affidavit No. 4904/2009

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Mazen Muhammad Saleh Yihiya, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 999818750, born on 12 August 1981, a taxi driver, and a resident of al-‘Araqa village, Jenin Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At about 7:00 pm on Saturday, 16 May 2009, I was on my way back to my village of al-‘Araqa, which is located at a distance of approximately 15 kilometres west of the city of Jenin. When I was close to the Separation Wall, which is constructed in the south-western quarter of the village of al-‘Araqa, I saw that Iron Gate No. 317 was open. This Iron Gate is designated for owners of land isolated behind the Wall. In this area, the Wall is made of electric barbed wire, detour roads, paved streets, and a trench. Near the Gate, I saw a green Israeli military jeep as well as another large vehicle, which was also green. The vehicle seemed to be a four-ton Mercedes truck with a large rear container. I also saw two Israeli soldiers in military uniform
standing near the open Iron Gate. Meanwhile, a large herd of 120 to 130 wild pigs crossed the gate to land surrounding the village. With the exception of a few pigs, most pigs were quite small.

Later, the earlier mentioned jeep and truck left the area. I did not see any pigs get out of the large vehicle because I had not yet reached that area. I should also note that the Iron Gate is not usually or regularly open. The gate only opens at certain times during the day in order to enable Palestinians holding specific permits to cross to their lands isolated behind the Separation Wall, or whenever an Israeli military force wants to pass through to neighbouring villages.

When I saw that the Iron Gate open, there were no farmers or military forces present. Thus I concluded that the Gate was opened for only a short period of time in order to allow the pigs to cross from the land isolated behind the Separation Wall towards Palestinians’ lands beyond the Wall.

The next day, 17 May 2009, residents of the village stated that severe damage was caused to Palestinian land cultivated with wheat, malt, and other crops by a large number of wild pigs, which were released on the village lands. In light of the currently spreading epidemic disease referred to as “swine flu”, a state of panic emerged amongst residents of the affected villages.

This disease is transmitted from pigs to humans and regularly causes the death of infected persons. We fear that the pigs, which were released by the Israeli occupying army may be infected with that disease and transmit it to Palestinian residents. In fact, the pigs have not only come in contact with but have also destroyed olive trees and various kinds of crops. Moreover, farmers working on their lands during the day see these pigs and regularly try to expel them from the area. Therefore, we are afraid that anyone could come in contact with the pigs and be infected with the disease and transmit it to other citizens. Even if such a pandemic does not break out in the area, the pigs continuously cause severe damage to farmers; they destroy all types of crops and trees planted on agricultural lands.

The confiscation of hundreds of dunums of village land by the Israeli occupying authorities and their subsequent isolation behind the Separation Wall has prevented village residents, including farmers, from accessing their lands behind the Wall, thus depriving them from their main source of income. Now that the pigs have been released, the Israeli occupying authorities are imposing additional restrictions on Palestinian citizens, posing a further threat to their incomes, their lives and health. The village council and the local authorities have very limited capacities to confront a potential pandemic.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4904/2009
  • Field researcher: Tareq al-Haj Mahmoud
  • Affidavit Date: 20 May 2009
  • Name: Mazen Muhammad Saleh Yihiya
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