Only In Israel

Friday, April 15, 2005

How the Intifadeh ruined Palestinian lives

A few weeks ago I was in a regular patrol in the village of Kharbatha near Ramallah. This is one of the nastiest villages I've been to. The streets are covered with photos of suicide bombers, I saw some dim photos of Rantissi and Yassin all around it. Every enterance into the village ends up with a lot of rocks thrown at our Hummer. 6 Suicide bombers came from that village, and numerous terrorist masterminds were arrested there.
Then I noticed something which I haven't noticed before. Usually, I've been in that village in night time, for arrests and stuff, but this was during the day, and I saw that most stores on the main street had Hebrew signs. That surprized me. I mean no Israeli in his right mind would go into Kharbatha. The village is deep in the west bank, and outright dangerous.
I used the first oportunity I had in the checkpoint to ask a Palestinian what was that all about. Turns out that the road connecting most settlements in the Area with Modi'in and thus Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, used to pass through Kharbatha as recently as 4-5 years ago. Kharbatha was a major marketplace, where the Israelis used to come to for olive oil, and various construction supplies. As the intifadeh started and the village became more and more hostile towards Israelis, rocks were thrown, firebombs, ETC, and road 446 was constructed to stop the Israelis from going through the village. The result? Shops were closed, hundreds of Palestinians lost their jobs, and the Israelis pay more for their goods.
A similar story can be told for the "Hotze Shomron" or Trans-Samaria road. Road 5 (trans-Samaria highway) was built in 1998, following constant Palestinian attacks on Israeli vehicles travelling on it. The highway serves Elqana, Ari'el, Barkan, Gane Shomron and connects them directly to Tel Aviv. These are largely secular settlements, and are pretty big (especially Ariel) so the traffic there is quite heavy. The old Trans-samaria road used to go through Palestinian villages such as Mas'ha, Azzun Atme, Bidya and Sarta. Mas'ha and Bidya were popular locations for posh Israelis to go for Hummus and shopping. The Mas'ha marketplace was a famous location, everyone used to go there. Then cars got attacked. Shipments coming from Ariel and Barkan Industrial zones were always late, cars were hit with stones, sometimes shot upon. A new road was constructed, Highway 5. The road construction resulted in land confiscations, so Palestinians lost land, and the highway no longer passed through Palestinian villages, the road going there was now dubbed "dangerous" and noone was gone there. The Mas'ha marketplace is now deserted. No Israeli would go there, and now the Anti-Terrorism barrier will separate between Elqana and Mas'ha (it's the scene of many anti fence protests).
These are just two examples of the way Palestinians brought poverty upon themselves. This place can flourish under peace, both sides doing business and making money, or, the Palestinians can suffer under war, the Israelis will pay more, but live, as we've shown during the last 4 years. The Palestinians had more to lose and they did.
And this is why peace, is the solution to this area's problems, both financial and security.

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