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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Palestinians 'forced to abandon village'
Destroyed water pump station
The village's pumping station has been destroyed
Palestinians have abandoned a West Bank village because of what they describe as harassment by inhabitants of a nearby Jewish settlement.


Our life is more bitter than hell

Kamal Sobih
The last few families left the village of Yanun, near Nablus, on Friday, saying they had been regularly under attack from illegal hilltop outposts of the Itamar settlement 10 kilometres to the west.

The village mayor returned with several men at the weekend to maintain a presence and prevent settlers from taking it over.

Khirbat Yanun village
Yanun is the first Palestinian village in recent years to be evacuated
An official from Itamar said he was not aware of any harassment, although he said settlers would not allow Palestinians anywhere near them after two years of violence.

In June this year, five Israelis were killed and eight injured in an attack by a Palestinian gunman, although no-one in Yanun has been linked to any attack on settlers.

Yanun is the first Palestinian community to be evacuated in recent years owing to alleged harassment by Jewish settlers.

'More difficult than death'

Reports say the village's stone houses are now locked and the small local school is deserted.

An electricity generator was found scorched by fire and three large water tanks tipped over and emptied.

"Our life is more bitter than hell," said 40-year-old father of six Kamal Sobih, who was one of the last to leave for the neighbouring village of Aqraba.

Residents said that masked settlers used to rampage through the village stealing sheep, throwing stones and beating them with fists and rifle butts.

Olive pickers and goatherds say they have been chased from nearby hillsides, and two weeks ago a man from Aqraba was shot dead in the olive groves.

Sobih family car leaves village
The Sobih family was the last to leave
"This was not a life," Mr Sobih added. "I left against my will. It is more difficult than death, but I would go to the desert so my son can sleep safely."

But the chairman of the local council of the Itamar settlement, Yaacov Hayman, said settlers were trying to keep the villagers away from them.

"After everything we've been through, we're not willing to let them get near us," he said. "We're not willing to take any chances."


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21 Oct 02 | Middle East
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