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At the closed gate of al-Mughayyir

Yesterday a military force entered the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir in order to destroy the public garden and playground. Until yesterday, the villagers found rare moments of pleasure, socializing at this peaceful corner while the children have fun right there. No longer. Why destroy an innocent playground? The reasons are found in the evil annals of the Israeli military occupation. Amir Pansky went to al-Mughayyir today and could not get to the village. He was blocked by a locked gate.

Pansky, a human rights activist, member of Looking Occupation in the Eye, travels a lot throughout occupation land. It’s the desert running between arid hills and dried ravines, where many Palestinians settled three generations ago. They came there after being chased away, or running away from the borders of the State of Israel in 1948.

Pansky is an acute witness of the occupation’s injustices. When he drives to accompany Palestinian shepherds at dawn, he continues on to another mission he has taken upon himself: documenting the colonists’ race to push the Palestinians out of their habitat, in a ruthless wave of expulsion all of whose mean methods are ‘kosher’.

“For example, setting up a gate block at the entrance to al-Mughayyir, a Palestinian community south-east of Shilo colony”, Pansky says. “Such gates have been erected at the entrance to numerous villages in order to block and choke routine life. Naturally, the only excuse is always ‘security’, but the truth is very simple – making normal life unbearable.”

The gate to al-Mughayyir is opened and closed pending on the whims of soldiers stationed around there. The Palestinians have no idea when it will be opened, when locked. The occupation imposes an arbitrary agenda on the Palestinians as another means of oppressing the human spirit. Capricious control will always be in the hands of the occupier. The occupied are supposed to forget that they were born to be free and independent.

Close to the gate is a watchtower, at times deserted, at times manned. The flag is torn, “looks like the country itself” as Pansky says, beating itself in the dry wind over the metal compartment.

The villagers are entirely at the mercy of the soldiers. Every exit from the village to visit relatives, run errands, shop, undergo medical examination and treatment entails the opening of the gate. When it is locked, there is no exit to road 458, no medical care or shopping in Ramallah. Having no other choice, the villagers ruin their vehicles on rugged, winding dirt tracks in order to arrive at their destination, exhausted and humiliated. One can only reach the main road by foot or helicopter. The Palestinians have no flying machines, and in the meantime the farm lands of al-Mughayyir villagers are deserted, and the gate locks their way to the fields, and to human life in general.

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