Al Numan Village, southeast of Bethlehem, has become a prison, completely surrounded by the Israeli Wall inside the West Bank. Al Numan is a small village, on a hill of 5,000 dunams of land. Over the last ten years, Israelis have built several major settlements on stolen Palestinian land in the area, including Har Hama settlement, built on Abu Ghneim Mountain.
Abu Ghneim was the only green space in the Bethlehem area, and was a popular picnic spot for Bethlehem residents. Now, with Har Homa settlement having destroyed the mountaintop and cut down all the trees, surrounding the settlement with a Wall so no Palestinians can come near, there are no longer any green areas or parks in the Bethlehem area.
At the new “entrance” to Al Numan Village, Israeli soldiers occupy a gate which is now the sole entry and exit point for the Palestinians who live there to reach Bethlehem, the nearest city.
Al Numan is near Sur Bahar Village in the Jerusalem District, and is part of Bethlehem as well but nearest to Beit Sahour.
From the hilltop of Al Numan, one can see the Haram Al Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City, and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Local residents note that this makes Al Numan a strategic point for the Israelis as they continue the takeover of Jerusalem. The village is surrounded, as is Jerusalem, with settlers and settlements and Israeli military installations, checkpoints and roadblocks.
The Land Defense Committee Chair in the Village said that recently Israeli soldiers imposed a massive gate in the Wall around the village. He reports that Israeli forces decide arbitrarily when to open and close the gate, and whom they wish to allow through or not. There is no rhyme or reason, except that any Palestinian not holding an Israeli permission slip has no chance at all to go through.
Students cannot reach their schools. The students from Al Numan village had attended school in Beit Sahour, the town just east of Bethlehem, but now are not allowed through the gate to get to school. Occasionally soldiers will allow some students through, but even those who are allowed through are always late, and can only attend school sporadically, at the whim of the soldiers – making education impossible. University students enrolled in Al Quds University in Abu Dis, on the eastern road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, are totally unable to access their university.
The Committee Chairperson told the Palestine News Network on Monday that Al Numan Village students who make it through the Israeli soldiers at the gate are often an hour or two late to school. He also explained that now any Palestinian who is not a resident of the village is not allowed to enter, even if coming to visit relatives. This is similar to the situation in Al Mawasi, in the southern Gaza Strip, which was closed for years and became the most devastated and impoverished area in all of Palestine.
Additionally, Israeli forces now prevent trucks from entering carrying supplies such as vegetables and fruits. Delivery trucks are allowed to enter the village only once every four to five days. This was also the case in Al Mawasi. The Committee Chairperson of Al Numan said with exasperation to reporters, "It’s obvious what Israel is doing — they are making it impossible to live here, to drive the population out in order take over this strategic location, as the Israeli administration continues its slow yet steady process of ethnically cleansing the West Bank of its population. They add Israeli settlers and put Palestinians behind Walls and gates. It is only a matter of years before the Zionist planned ‘1894 Map of Israel’ – which includes wiping out the Palestinian population completely, and replacing them with Jews — is fulfilled."
And with Israeli electrical fences now surrounding the village, its electrical supply is tapped. Instead of the electricity going to light village homes, it is bypassed to the fence and half the nights are spent in darkness at the hands of the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem District Electric Company. So Palestinians here, as throughout the West Bank, end up paying the cost of their own imprisonment.