Israeli Occupation Soldiers took over a Palestinian house in Marda Village and Transforms it into a Military Post

Israeli Occupation Soldiers took over a Palestinian house in Marda Village and Transforms it into a Military Post

Every time Israeli occupation soldiers carryout an incursion into the village of Marda, they tend to takeover a number of houses and turn them into military points which usually causes fear and contempt on the part of the Palestinian elderly, children and youth; for example, in September 2007 Israeli occupation soldiers forced their way into the house of Mr. Ahmad Najeh Khafash and used it as a military point for two days. In late 2007 another takeover was done in the house of Mr. Ahmad Saleh Ibdah for, also, a period of two days. On March 10th, 2008 Israeli soldiers forced their way into the house of the 60-year-old Mr. Ghazi Zaki Khafash and turned it into a military point. Israeli occupation soldiers claim that they are using the targeted homes to ensure colonists’ security and to prevent stone throwing on Road 5.


Mr. Ghazi Zaki Khafash relayed to Land Research Center’s field worker the following testimony: ' It was 1:00 AM on the 10th of March, 2008. I was surprised to see three Israeli patrols throwing sound grenades towards the houses of the village and declaring curfew. The soldiers then came to my house, broke the front door and told me to get out of it. I hurried out as I was so scared that they might open fire or to cause damage to the house or to my nearby garden. When I was out I tried to talk to the soldiers who told me to inform all the residents of the house to get out. They didn’t even give us the chance to take out with us any of the necessary and basic items. When I pleaded with them to give us a chance to take some basic items, one of the soldiers threatened to immediately open fire at anyone who would stay in the house. My 56-yearold wife who suffers from high blood pressure, my two daughters, my 14-year old son along with me were forced out into the street. Upon our departure, Israeli occupation soldiers started a search-and-destroy campaign inside the house. They, then, went to the roof of my three-story house and placed an Israeli flag in addition to barbwires around the house. We waited outside for an hour and a half before the soldiers put me and my family all in one room. They prevented us from leaving it, opening the windows or even talk in a loud voice. We were let go only the next day.

Photo 1: The house of Mr. Ghazi Khafsh taken over by Israeli occupation soldiers.


At about 8:00 AM on March 11th 2008, Israeli soldiers threw tear gas and sound bombs towards Palestinians who gathered around the house. That was despite the fact that a large number of houses surround Mr. Ghazi’s house and that any tear gas or sound bombs thrown would most certainly affect them and their inhabitants. The soldiers have also opened fire indiscriminately which led to cutting off of the power line of the house located next to Mr. Ghazi’s house. Furthermore, Israeli occupation forces prevented the residents of the nearby houses from using their rooftops for “security” reasons. Mr. Jihad Hasan  Khafash (37 years old), whose house is located next to Mr. Ghazi’s, has indicated the following:


Occupation forces stationed in Mr. Ghazi’s house prevented the owners of neighboring houses from opening their windows or even stand next to them. They even prevented us from reaching our rooftops. Moreover, they have said profanities against men and women in a loud voice.


He continued: ' In the afternoon hours of the 11th of March I was working the land near my family. I was taken aback when Israeli soldiers suddenly appeared and told me to leave the land. I got into an argument with them only to be punched in the chest by one of the soldiers. I asked about the benefit of taking over my rooftop. The commander answered that it will be used “ to prevent terrorist activities” on the nearby by-pass road. He also said that such a policy will continue “as needed.” In the evening of the same day my72-year old mother got sick. So, I tried to get her to the village’s clinic as she needs to take a specific set of shots between now and then. However, the soldiers prevented me from transporting her there and told me to go back home as there was “a curfew for security reasons.” 


The son of the owner of the taken over house, Mr. Asa’ad Ghazi Khafash (29 years old) indicated that: ' While we were crammed in the one room we did not know how to sleep as the movement of Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the house was enough to instill fear and anxiety in our hearts.'      


The soldiers withdrew from the house at 1:00 AM on the 13th of March, 2008. They left behind a trail of destruction and damages in the house. They even wrote uncomprehendible words on the walls of the rooftop. They have damaged the windows and the doors of the house as they left large quantities of leftovers and trash behind.


The Village of Marda and its Suffering:

On the eve of the 1978 Camp David Accords, about 400 dunums of the village of Marda’s most fertile agricultural lands were confiscated for the purpose of establishing the nuclei of the colony of Ariel on it. Currently, this colony has an area of 20,000 dunums on the expense of the lands of the villages of Marda, Kufl Haris, Iskaka in addition to the city of Salfeet. About 3,660 dunums of the confiscated lands belonged to Marda. The second wave of confiscations took place in mid 1980 as 120 dunums north of the village were confiscated for the purpose of the establishment of Trans-Samaria Road 5. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, at least 240 olive trees were uprooted for that purpose. Currently, the village is surrounded from its southern, northern and southwestern directions.


Since the beginning of the current Intifada in 2000 the village of Marda has become the target of an intense harassment campaign by Ariel colonists who tried to raid the village many times. The ICRC has documented a number of cases in which colonists have attacked the village’s youth. Moreover, the colonists have frequently set free wild pigs toward Palestinian lands which caused great damage to Palestinian crops and even property. These pigs have also instilled fear and anxiety in the hearts of the young and the old of the residents of the village to the degree that none of them would walk alone in the village without the escort of the youth as a protective measure against the pigs.


The agony did not stop here; occupation forces confiscated 110 dunums northwest of the village for the purpose of establishing Trans-Samaria Road 55 in accordance with the occupation’s unilateral disengagement policy. Around 230 olive trees were uprooted to make way for the Road. Moreover, occupation forces confiscated thousands of dunums in the Governorate of Salfeet to establish the Racist Isolation Wall around the colony of Ariel. The section of the Wall that passes on the land’s of Marda is about 5 kilometers long with a width between 60 to 80 meters which resulted in the uprooting of 4000 olive trees and the isolation of more than 5000 olive trees behind the Wall.


Photo 2: House in Marda village located close to the colony of Ariel.


The feverish land confiscation campaign in Marda was carried out at a time a synchronized campaign between the occupation forces and the colonists was taken place to make life tough for the residents of Marda; Israeli forces have placed a number of water tunnels along the Wall surrounding the colony of Ariel to be used in pumping the waste water of the colony unto the Palestinian lands laying beneath the Wall. Such pumping has led to the destruction of tens of dunums of Marda’s best agricultural lands. At the same time, colonists have been attacking Palestinian trying to work in their land located near the Wall.


Photo 3: The University of Ariel that is expanding on the expense of Marda village.


It is worth noting here that occupation forces have made a habit of raiding the village every so often and imposing curfew on its residents. Moreover, incidents of youth hitting and harassment under the pretext of preventing stone throwing at colonists’ cars traveling on Trans-Samaria Road 5 have been widely reported.


As to increase the agony of the residents of the village, Israeli occupation forces have placed an iron gate on the only entrance of the village (located east of the village). The western entrance of the village was permanently closed earlier with a set of fences and earthmounds. These forces had, also, placed a fence on the lands of the village located parallel to the Trans-Samaria Road 50 in 2005 to separate between the Road and the village. As such, Israeli occupation forces currently control the movement of the residents of Marda through opening and closing the eastern gate.


Israeli Occupation Forces Shut Down the Only Entrance of Marda:

Israeli occupation forces have shut down of Monday March 31st, 2008 the eastern gate of Marda which led to the total isolation of the village. The western entrance of the village was closed down in 2002. The Israeli Racist Isolation Wall established in the vicinity of the colony of Ariel surrounded the village from its southern, southeastern and western directions. As such, there was only one entry point to the village through the eastern gate. The shut down of the eastern gate has caused great difficulties for the residents of the village in terms of movement from the village to nearby villages and towns and in terms of being able to get the necessary supplies and services. The shutdown of the entrance has transformed Marda into a big jail isolating in it more than 2140 Palestinian whose entry and exist to and from the village is controlled by the whim of an Israeli soldier. 


Photo 4: The Sole entrance of Marda which was closed by the Occupation Authorities 


An Overview of Marda:

Location and Population:


The village of Marda is located north west of the Governorate of Salfeet. Its total area before the year 1978 was about 9,326 dunums. The built-up area in the village is currently 519 dunums with a total population of 2,500 Palestinians. See Map 1


About 80% of the workforce in the village used to depend on working inside Israel before the inception of the current Intifada whiles the remaining 20% worked in the agricultural field. According to the village council, the current rate of unemployment in the village is about 46% as most of those who used to work inside of Israel are unable to reach the work market there anymore due to the closure, siege and the Wall. Moreover, the agricultural sector in the village was severely damaged due to land confiscations as 5400 dunums were confiscated (constituting 58% of the total area of the village) for the purpose of colony expansion and the construction of by-pass roads to be used exclusively by Israeli colonists. 



Prepared by:
The Land Research Center