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Cut off from water and electricity grids, Arab Abu Farda stands alone

By Calum Toogood

19tite-farda.jpg

December 19, 2012

Photos by Lazar Simeonov.

 

Arab Abu Farda is a Bedouin village which for the past 60 years has received no basic amenities such as water and electricity, and little help from the outside community.

It is situated South of Qalqiliya in what is known as the 'seam zone’, which is the land between the green line and the Apartheid Wall. This land is classified as a closed military zone, meaning construction in the area is prohibited. Even access through the checkpoint requires special permission.

Since structures are not allowed to be built within the village due to the Israeli occupation policies, the houses are predominately made of corrugated metal, wooden pallets and anything else the villagers have been able to gather.

The village is agriculturally based, as the residents breed livestock and sell the cheese from their animals in Nablus.

During the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians embarked upon Jewish militia groups in 1948, the family that now lives in Arab Abu Farda was forced to flee from their home in a village close to Netanya.

The residents of the village claim they still have papers showing the land which they owned near Netanya. They say their land consisted of 500 dunams, and a large quantity of livestock.

Additionally, the residents say they have papers to show that they own the land on which they currently reside. Since they cannot expand however, they are forced to live practically alongside their animals in what appears to be a very unhygienic manner.

Without the provision of a reliable water supply the villagers are struggling to accommodate the large quantity of water necessary to feed their animals. Alongside this, they say they are finding it hard to have enough water to shower and clean their own clothes.

A large water tank was donated to the village by the French organisation Première Urgence. However, without any kind of water supply they cannot fill the tank. Water has to be bought in tanks and then transported to the village by tractor, which requires special permission granted from the Israeli army in order for the water tanks to cross the checkpoint.

The head of the village went to the nearby community of Hableh to request that they be connected to their water supply. They were refused and told that Hableh’s water supply was at its capacity.

Another reason given was that due to the height of the land on which Arab Abu Farda is situated, it is much harder to pump water there.

There is a natural well that is much closer to the village than Hableh, which makes it possible to pump the water from this well into their tank.

In spite of this, they are being forbidden to use it by the Israeli military. No one currently uses this well and the villagers say they are prepared to assist in any costs. Still they are not allowed to use this well.

The children from Arab Abu Farda attend school in the village of Nabi Ilyus, across the checkpoint and to the East of Qalqiliya. The children usually receive low marks at school, largely due to their living conditions. The children cannot study in the evenings since there is no electricity in the village.

The children are also regularly absent from school. The bus that comes to take them across the checkpoint to school does not pick them up from the village; instead it waits on the main road. When it is raining this is difficult for the children to walk to the main road to catch the bus.

Living in such an area and under such poor conditions has evidently taken its toll on the villagers and created an uncertainty to their own identity:

"We are not known, whether we are Palestinian or Israeli," one villager explained. "The Israelis are considering us as Palestinians and the Palestinians (PA) are are not giving us any facilities. We are not known. Who are we?"

The mobile clinic from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society has now begun visiting the village on a regular basis. On its first visit, medical staff saw to some of the villagers’ needs, taking blood samples and distributing necessary medication.

Source


:: Article nr. 93665 sent on 21-dec-2012 02:11 ECT

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