Saturday, April 3, 2010

Qaramat Bani Hassan

Friday 2 April
Reporting from Occupied Palestine

A group of internationals , including two ISM activists, joined sympathisers and supporters from Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank in assisting the villagers of Qarawat Bani Hassan repair and rehabilitate the historic natural springs which lie in the nearby Wadi Qana. The springs which issue at the base of the wadi feed into a series of reservoirs cut into the stone, said to date from Roman times.

From time immemorial they have been the source of water for those villagers without their own wells. Today the springs and their surroundings, a location of outstanding natural beauty, are the most important cultural heritage for the village. They also provide water for agriculture and shepherding.

Situated between Ramallah and Nablus, Qarawat Bani Hassan has the misfortune to be surrounded by a number of settler colonies, including Nofim, Yaqir, Revava, Kiryat Netafim and the most recent and closest, Havat Yaáir. (This last one "appeared overnight"). Settlers routinely trespass onto village lands and two weeks previously, in an act of deplorable vandalism, emptied sacks of cement and steel mesh into one of the Roman-era tanks. This followed upon the previous dynamiting of a nearby cave which, too, contained a natural spring and pool.

On this Friday the villagers and their supporters laboured under a hot sun to clean out the reservoirs, build dry stone walls nearby and bring the site back to its original condition. They were interrupted twice by groups of settlers from Havat Yaáir attempting to access the area. A confrontation was avoided only when the villagers returned to their work and ignored the presence of the intruders who, after a short time, returned to their colony on the overlooking hilltop. The presence of international and other observers armed with cameras undoubtedly deterred the settlers, on this occasion, from any further acts of vandalism.

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