Sources in Yatma say that about 15 Yatma teenagers are in Israeli prisons, after being seized from their homes, generally in the middle of the night, over the past few months.
Many of these teenagers are followed to their homes after being seen throwing stones at the occupying Israeli armed forces at Za’atara, a large road junction and military checkpoint about 2 km from Yatma.
Palestinian teens seized for throwing stone are typically kept in prisons for long periods, without trial, while Israeli stone throwers are rarely sanctioned. The Yatma teens presently in Israeli jails have mostly been there since January. Teens often languish in jail because their parents cannot afford bail. Until last year, when world outcry focussed attention on the practise, Palestinian teens over 15 were treated as adults and kept in adult jails under adult conditions, while Israeli teens under 18 were treated as children, a clearly discriminatory practice.
The Yatma Boys School has a new building thanks to a Jordanian donor. But the building is nearly empty, lacking basic facilities, even furniture. Computers are generally lacking, there is no phone line and there is only one water tap for all the students in the school. (This reflects the generally desperate water situation in Yatma, which was deprived of its spring by the settlers of the Rechalim colony).
This in from a recent visitor to Yatma:
……confirmed that the settlement of Rechilim had hijacked the spring (as in the ISM report) and this had affected the water supply for Yatma and five other villages. As Yatma village is very poor – the poorest of the villages around Nablus – the villagers rely mainly on rain water to fill their water tanks. Obviously this is a problem during the summer and buying water from the Israeli is expensive for them.
But characteristically the villagers (Arafat interpreted) did not talk about this but took me to see a broken water pipe on Naim’s land. This farmer whose family Sarah and I visited on the CADFA tour (they have sold the goats Sarah!) The break has caused flooding, which could affect the olive trees, prevents the distribution of water to other fields and attracts the wild pigs who damage the trees. The Israeli’s are refusing to mend it and the Palestinian farmers cannot bring equipment to mend it themselves; the land is close to the watchtower/fence of Rechilim and the army will halt any repair operations. In fact the villagers were surprised that our group had not attracted the soldiers as it usually does, but is was Shabbat so maybe they weren’t around…….
Yatma residents are forced to buy water from very Israeli settlers who seized their spring!!!
A report on the Yatma water situation from a worker with the International Solidarity Movement described the situation in detail and we expect more updates soon.
(Yatma had a population of about 2900 in 2008).