As you drive along Highway 505 on the road to Tel Aviv there is a
little Palestinian village called Kifl Hares set back 30 metres or so from the road. Since last week the road leading into the village has been declared a Closed Military Zone (CMZ).
The boundaries of the zone are unclear, and the reasons for declaring it are even more obscure. The village is a few kilometres down the road from the Ariel settlement where there was a recent suicide bombing. The suicide bombers didn’t come from Kifl Hares or the surrounding region. Kifl Hares is also very close to a planned section of the Apartheid Wall, which is meant to incorporate Ariel, a settlement in the middle of the West Bank, into Israel proper.
There is now a roadblock permanently manned by soldiers outside Kifl Hares. The soldiers have stationed themselves on the roof of a house that sits on the junction of the main highway and the road into the village. The house is owned by a villager named Sami.
When Sami’s family first moved to Kifl Hares the Ariel settlement didn’t exist. Sami, his wife and children had to leave the house because they came under attack from settlers. They decided to rent the house out as a shop. Osama, another villager has made a plant nursery in the gardens of the house. He was doing good business with passing traffic even after the 2nd Intifada began.
After years of work, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow Osama in to water the trees and plants. The current closed military zone order lasts until the end of September, and it is possible that it will then be extended. Sami is worried that he will lose his house altogether. In the meantime, Osama has lost his livelihood and many of the plants and trees will die.
Osama has contacted a lawyer, and IWPS contacted Israeli human rights activists, who have so far been unable to learn anything about the reason for the CMZ or how long the army plans to keep him from his shop. Even members of the Knesset called and the IDF refused to give them any information about the situation.
In a land where thousands of ancient olive trees are uprooted to build a wall that serves to further divide people, the death of a few more plants and trees may not seem much. But every human story is an important page in the book of this illegal occupation. The occupation continues, the wall is being built, the apartheid system of roads and services is in place but the story of Osama and Sami is the human face of this terrible situation.