|The settlers love this country. They
say so every day. They settle everywhere. But their love is like that of the
cannibal, who likes the children fried.
This thought came to my mind a
couple of days ago, when I was standing on a hill north of Ramallah,
near the village of Dora al-Kareh. Before me there stretched a beauty
spot I did not know before, hidden from the Jerusalem-Nablus highway.
A charming, flat valley between two
ridges of steep hills is divided into small plots on which vegetables
grow organically. The water of local springs flows in small canals
which, the locals say, date back to Roman times. The water is divided
between seven hamulahs (extended families) according to an unchanging
quota worked out 400 years ago. On the Ramallah market, these well-known
vegetables fetch prices considerably higher than others.
All this beauty is now threatened
with extinction. All in the name of love for the country.
The slogan is "by-pass road", two
innocuous words that hide a cruel reality.
On the face of it, what's wrong
with a road? It helps the flow of traffic. A narrow strip of asphalt
can't bother anybody. That's what people think when they hear about yet
another by-pass road.
The reality is quite different.
Let's take, for example, this particular road. It is designed to connect
two settlements - Beth-El and Ofrah. Length: 5.9 km. Breadth: 220 (two
hundred and twenty!) m. The road itself will be 60 meters wide, with a
security margin of 80 meters on each side. 370 dunams will be
expropriated outright, another 950 dunams will be rendered useless.
But the hidden is more important
than the transparent. The road will separate three villages from a great
part of their lands. In practice, these will be added to the
Some explanations may be in order:
Before the elections, Ehud Barak
visited Beth-El and Ofrah and promised publicly that they will stay
there forever. That was rather odd, because the recurring theme in his
propaganda was "separation" ("We shall be here and they will be
there…"), meaning that only big "settlement blocs" will be annexed to
Israel, while the settlers in isolated spots will be evacuated or become
residents of Palestine.
Beth-El and Ofrah are both isolated
in the middle of the Palestinian population, far from the green line.
But the leaders of the fanatical settlers live there, and Barak wants to
cultivate them. How? Simple: These isolated settlements will be turned
into a new "settlement bloc", to be annexed to Israel.
The "by-pass road" serves this
purpose. From a transportation point of view it is quite superfluous:
These two settlements are already connected by existing roads. The new
road will save the settlers five minutes driving time. Even if a new
road has to be built, it can be much shorter. The planned road is
unnecessarily long and winding.
So what's the real purpose? Well,
the road is, of course, to be annexed to Israel. It follows
automatically that all the land between the road and the settlements
will be annexed too. The road is a knife cutting off a big slice of
territory from the future State of Palestine.
The same happens now all over the
West Bank. This case is different only because of the beauty of the
landscape. While Barak chatters endlessly about "framework" and
"permanent status" agreements and while negotiators meet all the time,
Barak conducts a resolute campaign to enlarge the "settlement blocs".
The roads serve this purpose.
In this campaign of "creating facts
on the ground", not only are new injustices added to old ones, but also
irreparable damage is being done to the landscape of this country. It's
a new crime: the murder of the land, perhaps to be called "terracide".
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