“We live in a large prison, surrounded by settlements, the apartheid wall, and a military checkpoint on all sides,” says Anas Al-Kiswani, describing life in the village of Beit Iksa northwest of occupied Jerusalem, which the Israeli occupation has turned into a captive village isolated from the east of the city.
Beit Iksa occupies a strategic location, and enjoys its natural beauty and fertile green lands, and is about 9 square kilometers from Jerusalem.
The village lives under the occupation and its racist practices, represented by military checkpoints, the wall, and settlements, which exacerbate the suffering of its residents and restrict their movement, affecting their economic and social conditions.
Beit Iksa is separated from other Palestinian villages in the adjacent area by an electronic fence surrounding it on the northwestern side and linked to the separation wall.
Al-Kiswani, a resident of the village, reports to Safa that "the occupation authorities intentionally target Beit Iksa on a continuous basis, and deny its residents the use of their agricultural lands, with the aim of restricting them and pushing them to leave."
Meanwhile, the occupation confiscated most of its 14,670 dunums of land for the sake of settlement and the wall. The settlements of Atarot and Ramot were built on them while its residents are not allowed to expand and build except in an area not exceeding 650 dunums.
Since 2008, the occupation authorities have begun erecting temporary military checkpoints on the outskirts of the village, but in 2010, they erected a permanent checkpoint at the southwestern entrance, which separates Jerusalem from the occupied West Bank.
The occupation only allows the original inhabitants of the village to enter it through the military checkpoint, and imposes strict restrictions on the entry of Palestinians from outside the village, and this is done through coordination with the village council, as Al-Kiswani explains.
The suffering of the residents does not stop there. Rather, Israel has closed the road leading from the village to Jerusalem through the "Ramot" settlement, using a closed gate on a permanent basis.
In addition, Al-Kiswani points out that the village has not received any support from the Palestinian government in terms of job opportunities, land reclamation, etc., saying that the majority of its residents depend on agriculture.
The village includes a mosque, a school for males and another for females, one kindergarten, a headquarters for the local council, a house for the Holy Qur’an, and a health clinic, and it lacks development and expansion, due to the blockade.
According to Al-Kiswani, the ongoing occupation measures have pushed dozens of young men to move out of the besieged and isolated village, specifically to Ramallah, in search of work and a decent life.
He stresses that despite the Israeli practices and the difficult conditions, the people of the village are steadfast and insist on staying on their lands and not leaving them for the occupation.
For his part, the deputy of Beit Iksa municipality council, Naim Ghaith, describes the conditions in the village as "very difficult and tragic," due to the continuing occupation restrictions on the population.
Ghaith explains to Safa that "what increases the daily suffering of the people is the presence of the military checkpoint at the entrance to the village, which prevents the entry of anything into it, except through coordination with the occupation authorities, in addition to preventing the entry of any citizen who does not have an ID."
He points out that "the occupation forces only allow cooking gas to enter twice a week, at a rate of only 80 jars, and it may take several hours for the residents' needs to enter through the checkpoint."
According to Ghaith, the infrastructure is unsound, and the streets and roads are destroyed and need to be rehabilitated so that the residents can move without any obstacles.Source : Safa