|A view from the hilltop village of Fa'run to the Tayba checkpoint
Recently we visited one of many villages that is “too close” to the Wall. Of course, when Fa’run was established hundreds of years ago, nobody warned them that the Wall was coming! Nevertheless, it came, and, from their hilltop perch, the villagers now have a good view of the Wall – and of the Tayba checkpoint that was built (on village land) at its border.
Ahmad Derwish, a member of the town council, tells us that Fa’run is a farming village. “We have 800 dunams (a dunam is 1,000 square meters or about ¼ acre) in the town,” he says – “and about 4,000 dunams on the other side of the Wall.” He goes on to tell us that the Tayba checkpoint occupies about 500 dunams of Fa’run land.
|EAs meet with Ahmad Derwish of Fa'run town council
The residents of Fa”run are mostly farmers, with the land planted in olive trees. As in other places in this agricultural area of the West Bank, the farmers access their land through “agricultural gates” that are open three days a week for brief periods of time in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Lack of ability to freely access their land is only one problem faced by the residents of Fa’run. Their proximity to the Wall has meant the demolition of nine houses – the ones that the Iie closest to the Wall. Oddly enough, the Wall was built in 2003, but the houses that were deemed a “security risk” to the Israelis were not demolished until 2006.
|Demolished house - standing house in rear has demoliton order
And, when we toured the area in which the ruins of the houses can still be seen, Derwish pointed out two more houses that have “demolition orders,” but are still standing – pending rulings from the Israeli High Court (equivalent to US Supreme Court).
Saddest of all, is the partially-finished sports field, which received a “stop work” order when the townspeople began repairing the fence around it. The plan was to re-furbish a field that had been in use for “football” (soccer) and other sports since the 1970s and erect bleachers for observers. Today, it is a weed-strewn lot, with rusty goalposts at either end and a Cyclone fence partially surrounding it.
|Residents of Fa'run are not allowed to install turf or bleachers in their sports field
Fa’run is lucky in some regards. There are no close-by settlements, with the related “issues” that they bring, and the village has its own water supply, with new pipes that the International Red Cross helped to install.
And they do have lovely views across the valley – even if they cannot access the land beyond the Wall that they are viewing!