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Affidavit No. 4846/2009

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, ‘Abdallah ‘Abd-al-Ghani ‘Abdallah Bani-Jaber, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 978400133, born on 15 October 1966, a farmer and livestock breeder, and a resident of Khirbet al-Afjam, ‘Aqraba, Nablus Governorate, would like to declare the following:

About 20 years ago, I inherited from my father a piece of land measuring about five dunums in Khirbet al-Afjam. This area is located east of our village of ‘Aqraba and is the natural extension of its land. The land is situated at a distance of seven or eight kilometres away from the last house in the village. My father and grandfathers were livestock breeders and had been living in Khirbet al-Afjam for over 70 years. After I inherited the land and livestock, comprising over 300 sheep, my family of ten and I moved to live in Khirbet al-Afjam. Other families from the area, approximately 70 people, also moved there.

Due to extreme weather conditions in the winter as well as in the summer, 12 years ago, I constructed a barrack or makeshift home out of zinc plates, which measured 200 squaremetres for my family and I to reside in. We always try to cope with our difficult conditions. We graze sheep on vast pastures that extend over hundreds of dunums of land in Khirbet al-Afjam.

Since 2001, we have been subjected to suffering and harassment by the Israeli occupying authorities. Now I will tell you what happened to me one day in 2001, when a number of soldiers onboard of an Israeli army patrol approached me. Two soldiers stepped down and told me in Arabic that I was grazing my sheep in what they referred to as a closed military zone. The soldiers then took me onboard the patrol to al-Hamra checkpoint in the area of the Jordan Valley and detained me for five hours. Before I was released, a soldier confirmed that the area where I tended my sheep was a closed military zone and that I was no longer allowed to access it. He also made me understand that if I did not obey, other measures would be taken against
me.

I was subjected to five similar incidents. I remember that the last one of these incidents took place about two months ago. As I was grazing my sheep at a distance of one kilometre south of my home, an Israeli army Hummer jeep with five soldiers onboard arrived. The soldiers got out of the jeep and one of them told me in Arabic that I was not allowed to graze sheep in that area. I tried to talk to him, but he would not listen to me. “Shut up!” he told me. Then, the soldier forced me into the jeep, which drove to al-Hamra checkpoint. There, I was detained for four hours before I was finally released.

In addition to suffering from the practices of the Israeli army, we were also subjected to harassment by Israeli settlers. I will tell you a story that happened to us in the year 2002. One day, at around 4:00 pm, my 35-year-old brother Ayman, my 70-year-old uncle Nafez and I were on our way back to our village of ‘Aqraba. Along with our herd, which comprised approximately 1,000 sheep, we walked along a road in Yanoun village.

Suddenly, ten young Israeli settlers appeared at a distance of 100 or 200 metres from us and started running towards us. They were wearing civil clothes and some were carrying long and short weapons, others had sticks and stones on them. They came from the settlement of Itamar, in the vicinity of Yanoun road. As they approached us, they threw stones, pointed their weapons and shouted at us. In fear that they capture and kill us, we fled leaving the herd behin. 20 minutes later, we arrived in the village of ‘Aqraba. From there we drove to the Israeli District Coordination Office at Huwwara Military Camp and filed a complaint. The officers at the District Coordination Office told us that they would follow up on the incident. Then, we returned to the street we had fled earlier and saw that approximately 120 of our sheep had been shot and killed. There was no trace of the remaining sheep.

Around half an hour later, several Israeli army and Police patrols as well as a white jeep belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration arrived. After they saw what happened, they all left for the settlement of Itamar. About two hours later, they came back, bringing the rest of the sheep along with them. Then, we filed a complaint to the Israeli Police. However, to date, we have not received any reply and our suffering continues. Recently, on the evening of 20 April 2009, another incident occurred. Together with other owners of sheep barracks in the area, I was served evacuation order issued by the Israeli Department of Construction and Licensing. All of us were ordered to evacuate the area on the pretext that it was a closed military zone. According to the evacuation orders, in case of nonabidance, the barracks would be demolished within 48 hours. At first we did not care much about these orders.

On 22 April 2009, I took my sheep out to the pastures. My family was not at the barracks. At around 9:30 am, I received a telephone call from Mr. Jad’an, the Chairman of al-Falah Association in Khirbet al-Afjam. He told me that four Israeli patrols and a hydraulic excavator arrived in our area and that the Israeli army had demolished my residence. They had also demolished the residences of several other people, including that of Mr. Jad’an’s brother, which measured approximately 700 square metres, the home of Mr. Jamil, measuring about 200 square metres and finally that of Mr. Khalil, which measured about 200 metres.

It should be noted that all these makeshift houses were made of zinc plates and iron. No one was present in these residences at the time they were demolished. At the same time, Israeli troops tried to demolish three zinc-made residences that belonged to the three brothers Ghallab, Wasfi and Muhammad. Each residence measured approximately 700 square metres. As about 30 family members, including men and women, were present in these residences, the Israeli army suspended the demolition order for 48 hours and demanded that owners of these barracks dismantle them. According to Mr. Jad’an the Israeli army would come back and demolish the structures if we did not abide. Consequently, I immediately returned from the pastures, only to see my makeshift house and others completely destroyed. The three brothers then told me that the Israeli army had suspended the demolition of their barracks for 48 hours.

It should be noted that three Israeli settlements surround Khirbet al-Afjam. The settlements of Gitit and Mekhora are located at a distance of five kilometres southeast of the village. They were constructed on land belonging to our village and to other villages in the late 1970s. The settlement of Itamar is located at a distance of three kilometres away from Khirbet al-Afjam and was constructed in 1980 on land belonging to the villages of ‘Awarta, Beit Fourik, and Yanoun. The settlement was later expanded and expropriated lands east of our village. No one holds the Israeli occupying authorities accountable. On the contrary, they are encouraged to do what they do. We are subject to more and more restrictions on the pretext that our lands are situated within a closed military zone.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4846/2009
  • Field researcher: Yousef Qawareiq
  • Affidavit Date: 25 April 2009
  • Name: ‘Abdallah ‘Abd-al-Ghani ‘Abdallah Bani-Jaber
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