PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
Aerial view shows the house of the Palestinian Gharib family
Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP
Palestinian Saadat Sabri Gharib is pictured with family members between Israeli army barriers

Palestinians fear living in Israeli settlements but refuse alternative solutions

The Gharib family say they have to go through a security fence and patrol troops to reach their isolated home in the West Bank, where they say kids live in fear, but turn down offers of money or other land by settlement residents

AFP, Ynet |
Published: 08.01.22, 13:19
An eight-meter high metal fence surrounds the Gharib family home in the West Bank. To reach it they must pass through a gate remotely controlled by Israeli security forces.
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  • Since Israel seized the territory in the Six-Day War of 1967, a Jewish settlement has sprung up on surrounding land claimed by the family leaving them isolated in their single-story house on the edge of the Palestinian village of Beit Ijza.
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    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    Palestinian Saadat Sabri Gharib is pictured with family members between Israeli army barriers
    (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    "I don't know when this will end," sighed Sa'adat Gharib. "No one knows the pain my children are suffering."
    For years the family home stood amid swathes of farmland, but now it lies behind a yellow gate, controlled by Israeli soldiers, who also patrol a narrow bridge overlooking the eight-meter (26-foot) fence.
    "During these years we've had a tough life," said Gharib, 40, who works for the Palestinian Authority in nearby Ramallah.
    When he was a child, the Jewish settlement of Givon Hahadasha was built partially on land he says belonged to his family.
    5 View gallery
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    Aerial view shows the house of the Palestinian Gharib family
    (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    Decades on, the high fence separates the Gharib house from the Israelis' red-roofed homes and gardens. A communal space for the settlers, with a children's slide, has been placed a few meter (yards) away.
    Settlements are deemed illegal by most of the international community, a judgement Israel rejects.
    The Gharib family has fought numerous legal battles in Israeli courts, in 2012 winning the right to a small strip of the land they claim.
    "The settlers built a parking lot and a park, and we've needed the security forces to implement (the decision) and retrieve it for 10 years," said Gharib.
    The yellow gate leading to the house was installed back in 2008, Gharib said, and at one point the family had to hold up their IDs to security cameras to cross the threshold.
    5 View gallery
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    Children of the Palestinian Gharib family play between Israeli army barriers
    (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    "(We) appealed to the high court... and the court permitted us to have the gate open all the time," Gharib said. "Disputes have broken out between us and the settlers," said Gharib, who lives with his wife and four children, as well as his mother.
    Avi Zipory, a resident of the settlement, said he would prefer it if the "unpleasant" fence around the house was not there. "Two courts unanimously decided that the area and his house are within Jewish land," said the 70-year-old.
    "We didn't want to destroy his house... (he is) not ready to accept any alternative plan, (even) other land and a lot of money, that's why we had to continue this separation fence," he said.
    Gharib has hung blue tarpaulins to create a screen between his home and the Givon Hahadasha settlement. "So that the kids can play without being bothered by the settlers and fearing them," he explained.
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    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    Children of the Palestinian Gharib family play near an Israeli army barrier
    (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    Gharib said the situation has affected his children, particularly when there are clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces nearby.
    "My daughter couldn't sleep all night, for five hours, and she was afraid of the security forces that were stationed at the door of the house," said Gharib, recalling one incident.
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    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-SETTLERS
    This aerial view shows the house of the Palestinian Gharib family (C) as an enclave in between Israeli army barriers, at the heart of the Jewish settlement of Givon Hahadasha (R and L)
    (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
    Despite the difficulties, he still strives to harvest the family's olive trees.
    To do so, he said he has to coordinate with the Israeli security forces and take a circuitous route through the neighboring Palestinian village of Bayt Duqu. Once there, Gharib said he must wait "an hour or two" for soldiers to open another gate.
    Gharib remains determined to stay on his land: "This is our land which my father inherited from my grandfather. We will not sell it to anyone for all the money in the world."
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