An Nu’man village turned into an open air prison

An Nu’man village turned into an open air prison

The Israeli occupation authority, as part of its segregation Wall plan for the northwestern Bethlehem area, has installed a gate at the entrance to An Nu'man village which has restricted the free movement of the residents; severed the links with the sister village of Al Khas, and made it impossible for basic goods and services to be transported into the village. See Photo 1 & Photo 2



Since the gate was installed, only residents of An Nu'man have been able to enter or leave the village. This has created problems on numerous levels and has severely disrupted the economic life of the village. For example, the village’s main source for services has always been the town of Beit Sahour. Local traders from the town have always supplied the village with Gas canisters, vegetables and other services. These tradesmen are now no longer able to enter the village. The official reason given for this is that it is illegal under Israeli law to sell goods in such a fashion.

An Nu'man village is situated northwest of Bethlehem city, in the West Bank. Under international law, this area is recognized as Occupied Palestinian territory. However, since the state of Israel's illegal annexation of large areas of lands in and around East Jerusalem in 1967 (lands inside the West Bank), An Nu'man is considered part of Jerusalem by the Israeli municipality. It has been widely recognized that this illegal and unilateral annexation was intended to absorb the land, and not the people, to the state of Israel. In spite of the fact that the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem were granted 'residency' rights in order to remain in the city, residency was not granted to the populations of some of the outlying villages which were also annexed. The result was that the lands of An Nu'man village are classified by the occupying authority as 'Israeli lands', but the people are only have West Bank identification cards and so have to bear the consequences of this contradiction. The recent restriction of Palestinian service providers demonstrates one of the many contradictions created by this situation in day to day life.


This contradiction is further demonstrated by the fact that the residents of An Nu'man are still holders of Green 'West Bank' identification cards, and since it is illegal for residents of the West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit, the residents of An Nu'man are considered illegally present in Jerusalem when they are in their own houses – many of which predate the establishment of the state of Israel.  An Nu'man villagers have therefore become prisoners in their own homes, as the only access they now have to the city of Bethlehem is through the newly constructed gate, which is controlled by Israeli military forces. Also, access to Jerusalem and the nearby villages to the north are restricted and are only possible with the attainment of a special permit which allows the bearer to pass through the Gilo 300 terminal between Bethlehem and Jerusalem – provided it is possible to pass to Bethlehem at all on that day.

To highlight just one of many complications this causes for the residents, many residents of An Nu'man are now isolated from their own family members who live in neighboring Al Khas village (which is fortunate enough to have been located on the West Bank side of the Wall.)


Since the gate was installed a handful of local residents have taken responsibility for the distribution of Gas and vegetables. On numerous occasions Israeli military personnel who control the gate have considered this an extension of the 'illegal trading' and have forced the private vehicles (which belong to village residents) to return to Beit Sahour. The reality created by this is that food and Gas are in very short supply in the village as they can only be transported in very small quantities (i.e., plastic bags), often carried by hand, so that the carriers are not considered to be engaging in illegal trade. In addition to the direct disruption which the new gate has caused to village life, several further bazaar forms of harassment have also taken place recently against the village.

Water supplies for the village used to be transported to the village via a pipeline (funded by the residents themselves) which connected the water network with that of the village of Al Khas. During the construction of the Wall, this pipeline was cut by the military, the pipes were removed and an alternative pipeline was established after a ten day period where there was no water at all. See Photo 3 

Almost immediately after it was installed; the new pipeline began to burst regularly. When the residents investigated the problem, they discovered that the new pipes are not water pipes at all, but electricity conduits which are not suitable for water transportation. The result is that An Nu'man's water supply is unreliable and has cost the less than 200 residents 25,000NIS so far in water loss through leakage. 

The village has also had to tolerate long periods of time without electricity. The residents awoke recently to find that the main electricity pylon serving the village had been destroyed by the Israeli bulldozers. The motive for this exercise became clear when local technicians from Beit Sahour (in the West Bank) were refused entrance to the village on the grounds that they were not residents of An Nu'man. Eventually electricity technicians were allowed to enter the village from Jerusalem. The result is that the location of the electricity supply has been forcibly changed from Beit Sahour to Jerusalem, further weakening the village's connection with the West Bank and its primary service town.


Finally, even though the residents are managing to maintain a skeletal supply of goods and services by transporting them to the village manually, those responsible for gaining these supplies face regular harassments and intimidation from the military personnel who man the checkpoint. To date, methods of harassment have included forcing people to wait for hours at the gate whilst 'security checks' are carried out, refusing to open the gate because the personnel are 'resting', and verbally abusing females residents.

The result of all these practices combined is that An Nu'man is now under almost total siege by the Israeli Military. All basic supplies necessary for life are restricted and disrupted, family members are not permitted to have contact with other members of their families in the neighboring village and the daily security of the residents is directly dependent upon the arbitrary whim of military personal who man the gate to their village-prison. 


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Prepared by
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem


Categories: Separation Plans