Amjad – Jerusalem series

Amjad outside the village school
Villagers were refused permission to build a small playground around the village school

‘Nabi Smuel’ means the prophet Samuel in Arabic. It’s the name given to a village at the top of a hill overlooking Jerusalem and a mosque where the prophet is believed to be buried. The hill has been a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, Jews and Christians for hundreds of years.

In 1967 the invading Israeli army bulldozed the village, driving out the 500 inhabitants, but half of them came back and rebuilt their houses a short distance away. The Israelis are doing everything they can to make their lives unbearable.

Although Nabi Smuel is within the city boundaries and only four miles from the Old City, villagers are defined as being in the West Bank and not allowed into Jerusalem.

They are not allowed on the settler buses that go hourly into the City.  If they are caught in Jerusalem, they can get up to two years in prison or a fine.

They can only reach their own village through a checkpoint and only villagers’ cars are allowed in. Even emergency ambulances have been turned away.

If villagers want to receive visitors, they have to post their names at the checkpoint three days before the visit.

They are not allowed to build, extend or renovate houses or repair roads or the water system. The Israelis want the village to crumble away.

“We live in a small peaceful village.  We never had tied with any political group. But the Israelis want to empty the village,” said Amjad who is the guard at the mosque.

One Saturday night he was on guard when five settlers started chanting “we want to kill all Arabs”. As a result of a fight he had bruises all over his body. When the ambulance crew saw his Palestinian ID, they gave him medication but refused to take him to hospital. Instead of arresting his attackers, the police arrested his cousin for trying to protect him.

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