During one of our trips we visited a place called Nabi Samuel. If ever someone is lacking inspiration and belief in their ability to come through tough times, a trip here has the potential to help you gain the required strength.
For a start, there is a denial among some that village even exits. An Israeli official earlier in the year stated stated, "There is no village, there is a park". From having been there, however, I can say there most definitely exists a village. People here have been living here for all of their lives and have had to put up with the most trying of circumstances. Due to a nearby historical site the area is indeed designated a national park, and it is this title which means the people who live there suffer restrictions on the most basic of human rights. National park designation means no construction without a permit. No construction means that the response to the planting of olive trees is a demolition order, the response to the building of a fence around a school to keep kids safe is a demolition order, and any essential maintenance to property is not allowed.
The people are also on the wrong side of the separation wall, and as well as largely being denied access to Jerusalem, getting to some parts of the Palestinian territories presents a further challenge. To bring adequate amounts of food back they need a permit, at times they have a permit but are for no good reason denied entry with the food. Harassment from military is also widespread with people who are active in standing up for their rights receiving particularly rough treatment.
It is clear, however, that the people of Nabi Samuel are treated as mere pawns in a wider game. The Israeli authorities need them out of their current spot to further develop infrastructure connecting settlements to Jerusalem and they are doing everything in the power to make the villagers’ lives as uncomfortable as possible.
The human spirit, however, is going strong among the people of Nabi Samuel. They are doing what they can, and are even involving themselves in activities that promote feminist rights. Such things help give meaning to their lives, as for them this is a battle for survival. Through the Palestinian Summer Encounter I am proud to have met such people.