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by International Womens Peace Service Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004 at 3:42 AM

Deir Ballut is an extremely fertile area, with large tracts of waterlogged land being used as the main growth area for summer crops for the entire Salfit region.

Before the Nakba of 1948, the village owned 40 000 dunums of land (or about 100 000 acres). Some families still have papers proving that they own orange groves which are now situated in 'Israel'. Salfit municipality has documents dating as far back as 1903 proving that the land belongs to Palestinians.

In 1967, 20% more of Deir Ballut's land was confiscated into Israel.

The Oslo agreements of 1993 which divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C caused a huge problem for Deir Ballut and the two nearby villages of Azzawiye and Rafat. The three villages together own 370 000 dunums of land but about 80% of the land falls into Area C, which is under Israeli control. In Deir Ballut, only the village itself plus 150 dunums of land remain in Area A. The concept of Area C seems to be interpreted very broadly by the Occupation Authorities to the extent that Area C land is said by them to be 'Israeli land'. There have been several instances where the villages have been told to stop building or not to build because the land is said to belong to Israel. For example, before the Oslo agreement many families received permission to build homes in the villages and then suddenly after Oslo the same families were told that their houses were illegal since they were built without permission! In Azzawiye, only 50% of the 1000 houses in the village are 'permitted' and in Rafat, only 150 of the villages 350 homes are 'permitted'. In Deir Ballut, 100 houses fall into Area C and are not 'permitted'.

The villagers feel that the Area A, B and C system and the permit system amounts to a policy of forced transfer.

In 1993, the IOF cut down about 700 olive trees on Deir Ballut land, saying that this was Israeli land.

On 17 November 1998, Israeli authorities demarcated the land for a new bypass road that now cuts through land of the Palestinian villages Broqin, Kufur Adeek, and Deir Ballut. The road links the settlements of Ma'ale Labona, Ele and Shilo and is 7180 metres long. The construction of the road involved the confiscation of 1150 dunums of land, of which 600 dunums were olive groves.

In 1999, the extremist Jewish group Habad celebrated the establishment of the settlement of Har Zahav, built on stolen Deir Ballut land. Later on, on October 19th, 1999 the IOF used force to disperse hundreds of Palestinians who attempted to tear down a fence which the army had put up around the land of Jbara Youssef, an elderly farmer who died when he heard that his land was expropriated.

On January 14th 2000, settlers from Eli Zahaf (protected by IOF troops) uprooted 200 olive trees in Deir Ballut.

On July 5th, 2003 an armed settler-colonist shot dead 2 sheep and stole 60 sheep from a Palestinian shepherd.

Most recently, the IOF stopped Deir Ballut, Azawiye and Rafat from building an agricultural road to connect the villages, saying that they had already informed the Mayors not to build on 'Israeli land'. The Mayors then demanded to know how much land the Occupation Authorities consider to be 'Israeli land' and were shocked to discover that 345 000 dunums out of 370 000 dunums is either said to be 'Israeli land' or 'Area C'. The three villages only have the right to build on 25 000 dunums, according to the Israeli Occupation authorities.

Despite the disruption to freedom of movement, before the second intifada, Deir Ballut residents survived through a system whereby the men worked in Israel and the women farmed the 150 dunums of land with alternate seasons of summer crops (onions, cucumbers, tomatoes) and winter crops (wheat), and worked producing olive oil. A busy market existed on the road to Ramallah where commuters from all the neighbouring villages would buy vegetables daily. The market has now been destroyed by the checkpoint. Before, three kilograms of cucumbers could be sold for 10 shekels and now they fetch only five shekels – and this price is dropping almost daily.

For a detailed history of land theft and colonisation in Deir Ballut by the Land Research Centre:

"Given the fact that the village is located on the Green Line, it has been a target for a number of Israeli attempts to confiscate and expropriate as much lands as possible. More than 4,000 dunums located west of the village has been declared as State Lands ever since 1967. Furthermore, a colony called Ellie Zahav has been established on expropriated lands owned by villagers"

International Womens' Peace Service

IWPS Palestine is an international team of 16 women based in Hares, a village in the Salfit Governorate of Palestine's West Bank, which began for three continuous years from August 2002. IWPS documents human rights abuses, works with the media, and non-violently intervenes in abuses. IWPS engages in acts of non-violent civil resistance to oppose human rights abuses and the confiscation and destruction of land and property of Palestinian civilians. This includes helping remove roadblocks, accompanying Palestinians whilst they farm, accompanying ambulances, taking food and water to those besieged. IWPS supports Palestinian and Israeli peace movements in their civil resistance to end the illegal military Occupation.

Kate Raphael, a lesbian from the Bay Area, was arrested in Palestine on December 31 as part of a demonstration against Israel’s apartheid wall, which is planned to surround the community of Budrus. She was arrested while video-taping the Israeli soldiers who attacked the demonstration. That afternoon the Israeli government ordered the deportation of Kate and three other international activists arrested at the demonstration:

For update on Kate see:

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