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Affidavit No. 3342/2007

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, Yousef 'Ali Mas'oud Bdeirat, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 973895733, born on 1 December 1956, a worker and a resident of Khirbet Jbara, Toulkarem Governorate, would like to declare the following:

My home is located one and a half kilometres from the Jbara Israeli military checkpoint, south of the city of Toulkarem. I am married and have five children. My suffering started when Israel began the construction of the Annexation Wall in 2003. Before the construction of the Wall, my house was inside the al-Ras village boundary. Now, the Wall has separated my house from al-Ras village. My house is on the western side of the wall, while al-Ras village is on the eastern side.

My house is only 100 metres from the Wall, which is the reason for our suffering. Our movement has become restricted, and we are required to obtain special permits. The only way to exit my home is through the Jbara checkpoint where my family and I are subjected to humiliating inspection procedures by the occupying soldiers.

The Wall has also isolated me from my eldest son, Khaled Bdeirat, who got married in 2003, a few days before the Wall was constructed. After it was built, Khaled was given the necessary permits to get to my house. These permits were restricted to specific days. Sometimes, the permits were for a week. Other times, they were only for three days. Approximately one year ago, Khaled was denied these permits on the basis of security concerns, the details of which are unknown to us.

Khaled is neither an activist nor a member of any Palestinian political movement. After being prevented from entering my house because of the Wall, Khaled was forced to rent a house in the city of Toulkarem for his wife and himself. Khaled, his wife and their two children have not visited my house for a year as the Israeli soldiers have refused to give them permits to do so.

In January 2007, my daughter Fatima (20-years-old) got married to a resident of Toulkarem camp. Accordingly, we applied for permits for 40 members of the groom’s family, mostly women and children, to come to my house (i.e. the bride's house) to attend the wedding ceremony.

The Israelis refused to give anyone, except for the groom, a permit. In order to overcome this problem, I rented a hall in the city of Toulkarem in order to celebrate the wedding with everyone present. Nothing can express the harshness of such a situation. My family and I live a very complicated life, as if we were living on separate planets. The construction of the Wall deprives me of my friends and relatives who reside in al-Ras village.

Anyone who wants to visit my house needs to obtain Israeli approval. As you can imagine, my son 'Ali (10-years-old) and my daughter Hanin (13-years-old) suffer from extremely miserable and psychologically difficult living conditions because we have no neighbours with whom they can play. The Wall has confiscated my children’s right to play with their friends.

The closest town to me is now Khirbet Jbara, which is located three kilometres west of the Wall. I have no neighbours except for the family of ‘Azmi al-Dmeiri, whose house is 500 metres away from mine. This family lives under similar conditions to ours. Al-Ras village is located 250-300 metres east of my house, but now the Annexation Wall separates us from the village.

Every one of us must have a special permit in order to enter or exit the house. Even the children must possess these permits. The process of entering and exiting takes place at Jbara checkpoint, through gate number 22. After the inspection process at the checkpoint is over, I usually walk on the military road that runs parallel to the Wall. Military jeeps use this road in order to protect the Wall.

On one occasion the water and sewage system in my house was ruined, and the water started leaking inside the house. The walls absorbed this water and, as you can imagine, the situation became extremely miserable. As a result, I asked for permission to bring someone to fix the problem. I had to wait three days for the permit to be issued. You can imagine the situation my family members and I faced for those days.

My work consists of selling second-hand clothes in Toulkarem market. Accordingly, I cross Jbara checkpoint almost every day, which means I suffer daily. The inspection process for my car and myself takes hours. I face large problems transporting many materials, especially gas and fodder for the sheep. My suffering is not limited to this. One year ago, two military jeeps came to my house. Six Israeli military officials got out of the jeeps and introduced themselves as members of the Israeli Ministry of Internal Security, the Israeli Defence Ministry and the Civil Administration. Initially, they offered to provide me with a house similar to mine at al-Ras village or one of the villages at Kufr Jamal or Kufr Sour, in return for evacuating my house. Then, they asked me to suggest an amount of money I would accept in return for selling my house and my land.

I absolutely refused the offer. My house consists of two floors and its surface area is 175 square metres. The captains inspected the house and took measurements. I also own two and a half acres of land in the vicinity of my house. The captains returned six months later and threatened that if I did not accept their offer they would demolish my house and that I would lose both the house and the offer of money. I declined their offer again and said that if they demolished the house then I would reside in a tent and that I would never give up my house and land.

Throughout the construction of the Wall, the Israeli army cut off the water and electricity to our house for four consecutive months. I used to collect rainwater and light candles during this time. After bringing a case through the agricultural relief committee, who hired the lawyer Fathi Shbeita, the Israelis were forced to reconnect the water and electricity to my house. Truly, we live under very bad and miserable conditions. All we can see from our house are the military jeeps that are continually passing up and down in order to protect the Wall.

All I want to say is that even if I am killed, we will never leave our house. We have spent our whole lives working in order to build this house. I will not give up my land and its harvest, and I will not sell one bit of this land no matter how high the price. Although I receive no aid from official Palestinian bodies to help me withstand this situation, I wish to send a message through Al-Haq to all the human rights organisations and other concerned parties, urging them to move quickly to pressure the Israelis to alleviate the restrictions that have been placed on us so that we may live in dignity and under better conditions.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 3342/2007
  • Field researcher: Omar Jubran
  • Affidavit Date: 13 January 2007
  • Name: Yousef 'Ali Mas'oud Bdeirat
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