‘This place is only for Jews’

Gideon Levy & Alex Levac  Haaretz Magazine 30/08/19

And what could be more moving than the sign next to one of these springs of salvation: “Dear hikers, Welcome to Anar Springs, built thanks to an intensive effort by the youth of [the nearby settlement of] Niria. Lovers of this place, we have one small request: to dress in a way that respects all visitors, based on consideration for the needs of the Other. We built the site for your sake and for the sake of the people of Israel. Our goal is for everyone to hike and enjoy the springs together.” The heart swells at the words “lovers of this place,” “consideration for the needs of the Other,” “enjoy the springs together.” Mankind is happy, nature is spectacular, but this spring, like all the others like it in the West Bank, was stolen from its owners. Robbed. Plundered. With a stomach-churning crudeness and violence. The “everyone” and the “consideration” – those words refer to Jews only. In these apartheid springs, stolen waters shall not be sweetened. Palestinian owners of these lands can only look on despairingly from the windows of their homes at their neglected olive groves, which they were forced to abandon to the insatiable greed of the lords of the land, and at the gushing springs nearby that were also stolen from them. The groves are gone, the springs are gone, justice is gone. And all, of course, under the aegis of the state and its institutions.

According to Dror Etkes, the founder of Kerem Navot, an organization that studies Israeli land policy in the West Bank, there are today more than 60 springs in the central West Bank that settlers coveted and seized as part of a project of plunder that began 10 years ago. The landscaping and renovation work at about half of them has been completed, the dispossession made absolute, the Palestinians blocked from even approaching the springs and their lands. Other springs targeted by the settlers are in various stages of takeover. Etkes explains that the seizure of the springs is part of an ambitious plan of a far larger scope – to take control of the remaining open spaces in the West Bank. This is being done by way of creation of bathing areas and hiking trails, designation of graves of Jewish spiritual figures as “holy sites,” and development of picnic sites, all on Palestinian-owned private land. The aim: to isolate the Palestinian villages, instead of isolating settlements, and of course to seize more and more land….

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