Sa’ir, Occupied West Bank – The gathered men scramble to find their phones as news reached Sa’ir village that yet another young man from the small rural community has just been killed. With no name known yet, frantic phone calls are made all along the main street.
Villagers pace the road, walking under freshly printed plastic banners showing the faces of the village’s youth – young men recently shot down by the now ever-present Israeli army that encircles the village and the surrounding area.
“This reminds me of before,” Mohammed Kawazba says worriedly as the scene evolves around him. “Maybe this time it could be my brother or one of my other cousins killed. This is becoming so normal now; it’s happening all the time.”
A name eventually comes through. It’s a cousin of Kawazba. There is sadness and anger in the air, but not surprise. It’s Kawazba’s fourth cousin killed by the Israeli army in a week, all involved in alleged stabbing attacks on Israeli soldiers at the nearby Beit Einun junction.
A stinging deja vu hangs in the air
The village makes up just one percent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank, yet seven percent of all Palestinians killed (including Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of Gaza) since October, have come from this rural, underdeveloped community.
Sa’ir has a recent history of resistance against Israeli occupation. The village – pinpointed by Israel as a political hotspot – was hit hard by policies of closure during the second Intifada.
Situated between several Israeli settlements, and beside Road 60, one of the main arteries for settlers travelling in the occupied West Bank, Sa’ir has once again become a focal point of the Israeli army’s attention.
It is this proximity to settlers and Sa’ir’s previous political history, villagers say, that has resulted in the Israeli army clamping down hard on the village since the very first days of the escalation last October.