OPT: Profile of Nahalin Village - The West Bank Barrier update Feb 2006


Nahalin village is located inside the Gush Etzion settlement block, surrounded by the settlements of Neveh Geva’ot, Rosh Tsurim, Neve Daniel and Betar Illit. After the Oslo Accords, Nahalin was classified under Area B. Since then, civil affairs have been under PA control and security matters under the control of the Israeli military.





Since the beginning of the intifada, severe restrictions on movement have been placed on all residents. For more than two years the cluster of Nahalin, Husan and Battir was totally closed and the only access was on foot via the Husan/ Al-Khadr junction.

The IDF re-opened the road onto bypass road 375 in November 2003, but controlled movement initially with a mobile checkpoint and after that by setting up a military observation tower to monitor the passage of vehicles. The dirt track between Nahalin and Husan has been paved with support of USAID in November 2004. In 2004 all roads were reopened, except for the road to Jab’a, north west of Nahalin which is still closed most of the time, and the people of Nahalin are now able to move more freely. Access to Bethlehem has eased since the DCO has become operational for 24hrs two months ago.

Recently, the village council obtained a map of the planned construction of a terminal west of road 60 and a tunnel with a gate under road 60 connecting the villages of Hussam, Battir, Wadi Fukin and Nahalin with Beit Jala and Bethlehem. The movement of some 20.000 people will be affected by this project.

In April last year an order was issued by the IDF to confiscate 3000 dunums of agricultural land belonging to Nahalin to connect the settlements of Neveh Geva’ot and Bettar Illit. The members of the village council claim that this is so-called Tabo land of which the ownership papers from the Ottoman period are still on hand. Regardless of the fact that the court case on this order is currently pending, construction works have started.

Nahalin has a population of 6,300 people of whom 35% are under 18 and some 70% under 50 years old. Approximately 150-200 persons are registered UNRWA refugees. The villagers hold a West Bank ID card and the village belongs to Bethlehem governorate. In the range of 18-35 years, some 90% of the population is unemployed. The natural growth of the village will become a problem in the future due to lack of living space. Nahalin will become entirely closed in by both the expanding settlements as well as the Barrier, which will place severe constraints on the movement of residents and their access to services outside the village.

Before 1948 the village comprised 23,000 dunums out of which 10,000 dunums were confiscated by military orders in the years thereafter. On 4,500 dunums court cases are currently ongoing. The land is planned to be used for settlement expansion. At least 22 families would become directly affected if this ground was to be confiscated. All land is so-called Tabu land of which the ownership papers from the Ottoman period are still on hand. An area encompassing 810 dunums is built-up area. For any houses built outside this parameter demolition orders have been issued by the IDF.

Over 60% of the workforce was employed in Israel or in the nearby settlements (Betar Illit, Etzion, Efrata and Neve Daniel) prior to the Intifada, a share which has declined to 5%, according to the village council, due to the increased difficulties to obtain permits. As a result many have reverted to agriculture in order to cope, with the number of farmers increasing during the Intifada. Before the Intifada, people used to market their products in Jerusalem. Due to access problems they are now forced to sell their products for one third of the original price on the much smaller market of Bethlehem. During the olive harvest last year five Palestinians got injured by stone throwing settlers. Farmers are afraid now to bring their families to the field, while the harvest used to be a family feast in which every member participated.

Electricity is provided by the JEDCo and the West Bank Water Department from Mekorot sources respectively. Nahalin has been connected to Mekorot since the first half of the 1980s, with the internal water network currently reaching all households. The village has a debt of 1.5 million NIS with the Water Department, which resulted in a reduction of the outlet to 1.5 inch. One natural spring is used for agricultural purposes. The other spring has been polluted by sewage from the nearby Israeli settlement of Betar Illit.

Community Nahalin
Governorate Bethlehem
Population 6,300
Refugees 150-200 persons
UNRWA None
INGO Assistance USAID, Caritas
Contact persons Head of Village Council: Mr. Mohammad Rajada
Member Village Council: Mr. Naim Fannoun
Member Village Council: Ms. Huda Fannoun
Member Village Council: Ms. Nawar Fannoun

HEALTH

Primary Health Care

Three Primary Health Care clinics serve patients in the village one of which is a MoH clinic. There is also a clinic run by Caritas, which provides mother and child care. The clinics are daily open from 08-13hrs. In 2002 the Union of Health Work Committees opened a private clinic where a doctor was made available 24 hours during the strict closures and curfews. The Ministry of Health transferred responsibility of its clinics to the UPMRC. People feel that medical services have improved. Two pharmacies and four dentists are present in the village. Since November 2003, PRCS ambulance services are available in four shifts for Nahalin and the other encircled villages. When the Beit Jala checkpoint closed permanently, patients could be transferred back-to-back to ambulances on the other side of the barriers closing roads into Bethlehem from the west. For emergencies people are usually referred to the nearest hospitals of Bethlehem or Beit Jala.

Bethlehem Hospital

Access to the main hospitals deteriorated immediately during the first two years of the Intifada and people had to resort to the back-to-back transfer of patients at the Husan/Al-Khadr junction usually during daylight in order to avoid challenges by the IDF at night.

For secondary and tertiary health care and emergencies people are referred to the Husseini Hospital in Bethlehem.

EDUCATION

There are five schools in the village: two elementary schools for boys and girls, two single-ed secondary schools and one school for special education. A total of 2000 pupils attend the five schools. Some 400 students go to university in Hebron, Bir Zeit or other locations outside the village and 100 students receive their education abroad. Teachers and health personnel are mostly from Nahalin and an additional 150 teachers from the village teach elsewhere. The frequent presence of the IDF in the villages and the arrest campaigns conducted throughout the Intifada affected the students psychologically and school performance levels appear to have decreased. Currently, more students are choosing al Quds Open University because it enables them to avoid crossing checkpoints on a regular basis and is less costly. Students who study in universities in the north tend to live in their university towns.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES

The cluster lies in the heart of the agricultural area of the Governorate, which grows mostly fruit crops (grapes and olives) and vegetables. After the year 2000, the closure of all routes to Bethlehem forced farmers to transport agricultural produce by hand across earth mounds, using taxis to cover the length to and from earth mounds. During periods of heightened restriction, farmers would not make any income, unable to sell their produce. Movement restrictions have affected transportation costs, ten times higher than before the Intifada (from one NIS to 10NIS). The transportation of goods is very often left to the women, who are considered to have a better chance to cross permanent and mobile checkpoints. Even though it is much easier for the livestock products to reach Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour markets, the products are not easily sold there because of the limited market.