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  • Mary L. Hanna

Slow motion attack on Asair al Qibliya

The village of Asair al Qibliya clings to the west slope of the mountain. It is so steep it feels like every step you take is either up or down. Like many old Palestinian villages the history and the structures go back to Roman and Ottoman times. People wanted us to see how the illegal Israeli settlement of Shalhevet Farm was encroaching on the the village of Asair al Qibliya. The word encroach disguises what is actually happening - attack or displacement might be more accurate expressions. My first clue that the encroaching settlement buildings were not some benign encroachment came when I realized that the reason our driver had turned the car around and backed up the hill was so he could be prepare for a hasty escape if the settlers attacked us. Even with the car headed down hill away from the settlement the driver cautiously stopped his car several houses before the end of the street. When we got out of the car the new settler buildings stood out against the horizon, only a thousand feet or so up the hill. Actually these Israeli settler buildings are an “outpost” not a “settlement.” Technically the Israeli “settlements” are communities that are in violation of international humanitarian law but that are recognized by the Israeli government. On the other hand the “outposts” are in violation of both international and Israeli law. Outposts are the efforts of zealous advocates of settlement expansion who just take other people's land. Their strategy is to take Palestinian land by just building and living on it. They know that if called the IOA will not arrest them for violating the law, but instead will defend them and their illegal seizing of Palestinian land. Back to the reality on the ground in Asair la Qibliya. Between the top of the village and the outpost was a stone structure from which a blue and white flag was flying in the gentile breeze. This had been the spring that supplied water to the village, but the outpost residents had stopped the water flowing from the spring to the village and would not let anyone go up the hill to restore the flow of water. So instead of using their own spring water the village residents had to have water brought in by tuck. We saw this insidious slow but steady illegal forcing Palestinian off their land take many forms. But in Asir al Qibliya the settlers used denying people access to water, physically threatening their well being, and just occupying their land to squeeze the village.

You can see the road in foreground, the spring is the gray area, right center behind tree, the outpost buildings are against sky

Looking out over Asair al Qibliya

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