Our latest update from the West Bank

May 2, 2024

As always, we are in touch daily with our friends and colleagues in the West Bank. Here is the news from a contact in the Salfit area:

“Everyone in the West Bank is anxiously following the terrible situation in Gaza – waiting for a hostage exchange which so far hasn’t happened, dreading a further attack on Rafah – and watching helplessly as people starve. One tiny ray of light – we heard some supplies have got through and a few bakeries are producing bread at the moment. 

“In the West Bank violence is fast becoming more brazen and more frequent. Every single day, and every night, news comes that a village or farm has been attacked. There is always serious damage, and invariably people get injured or killed. There is news like this from all over the West Bank. 

“Every week there is a different level of escalation. Every day there are new restrictions. Every moment things can change. Will you be able to get to town? Will you be able to get home?  Many towns, like Jenin and Nablus, are completely blockaded now. The war is happening everywhere, and in every way. We all fear for our personal safety and security. That is life every day. 

“I have moved my car from the garden and hidden it – because there is the constant risk that settlers will drive through and damage or burn cars, and throw bricks through people’s windows. 

“The cessation of access to jobs Palestinians had in Israel is having a profound effect on the economy with repercussions across all aspects of public service and infrastructure. The economy is in crisis. 

“Ten years ago we were having settler attacks – but they were less frequent and also more covert – they would attack and then run away.  Now, nearly all of them are armed, and their guns are giving them courage. Now they hang around after an attack, wanting a reaction. And these are people who have mostly had military training, so they know how to handle guns and are not scared to use them.  No-one is stopping them – and there is overt support from the Knesset.  The settlers who burned a whole family alive a while back are still at liberty – nothing happened to them. Attacks are happening on several villages at once, and the feeling is they are becoming more organized. 

“Farmers with land located next to the roads or buffer zones or settlements suffer most. It is hard to imagine there is still hope that they can keep cultivating their land – but hope it still there.  They will never give up hope.  

“Many crops are affected – especially olives. In the North Jordan valley settlers have been bringing their sheep and goats to graze on Palestinian fields of grapes where they eat and trample the seedlings. 

“But where farmers are held up getting to their land to cultivate and maintain their crops they just keep coming and keep insisting they are allowed to go to their land. Sometimes they are permitted to pass. And sometimes it costs them their lives.  But they will not stop keeping on trying to work their land.” 

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