Mountain village-fortress of Ras Karkar

Mountain village-fortress of Ras Karkar

Approximately 8 kilometers east of the British fort Dir-Kadiz, which was described earlier, is located one of the most picturesque Palestinian villages, Ras Karkar. The little houses covered the terraces with a cone-shaped mountain, on top of which stands a fortress of the 18th century built, Ibn Samhan, where local feudal lords, the Samhan family, lived for centuries. Long before the Arab-Israeli conflict, local Arab feudal lords were at enmity with each other, from time to time arranging devastating raids on neighboring villages. Hence the fortress. The unusualness of the fortress of Ras Karkar is that it is a purely Arab-Palestinian fortress, not connected in any way with the British, or with the Jewish period, nor with the Ottomans, nor with modern Israel.

Not so long ago, with the start of restoration work funded by Germany, Ras Karkar began to quickly turn into a popular cultural center. Here are held music festivals, concerts, performances of local amateur ensembles. On our arrival, life in the fortress was in the key — a children’s summer camp for Palestinian children 10-14 years old. Some kind of “peppercorn” was attached by the fact that all these children lost their parents during the last Intifada and live in boarding schools in various cities of the West Bank.

For a long time, an abandoned and forgotten fortress (as well as the village itself) is changing before our eyes for the better. Many residents of large Israeli cities find it difficult to imagine that in some 5 (five!) Kilometers from the fashionable Israeli town of Modiin with chic shopping centers and high-rise buildings, there is a small village where there is not even asphalt on the streets and water is served in a matter of hours, who need to have time to fill the tanks.

Difficulties getting into Ras Karkar

Let me just say that if you want to easily and painlessly understand how simple Arabs live in martial law, then just drive from Ras Karkar to Deer Cadiz. It is very close, only 8 kilometers along a beautiful road, winding among the olive trees and hills of the biblical Samaria. What, have you gone already? And in vain, you will find a dead end. See how your path will look like on Google.Earth, and below will tell you what the problem is.

It is not easy to travel in the Palestinian territories without fully understanding the local specifics. The roads indicated on the map can be blocked by the Israeli army, and it is difficult to predict anything in advance. After visiting the British fortress in Dir-Cadiz, we returned to the car and drove east to Ras Karkar. Straight road through the village of Harbat. And suddenly the concrete blocks in the middle. No soldiers, no checks. Just blocks that do not give to drive. We already see Ras Karkar, here he is, on a mountain, three kilometers from us. But do not drive. For clever people who want to go around the blocks – specially excavated dug ravines on both sides, where you fall. We turn around and make a detour and arrive in Ras Karkar in half an hour. Compare: 8 kilometers in a straight line, or almost 20 kilometers in a circle. And all this is conceived by the military in order to control any movements of local residents, while saving soldiers. Why keep a separate checkpoint between the villages? Better the Palestinians wind kilometers around, who cares? Something like this reasoning the military.

A fascinating action is taking place before our eyes: Palestinians from Dir-Cadiz are dragging things from their cars into other cars standing on the other side of the blocks. Then they leave. Why is this done? Firstly, in order to avoid contact with Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint, secondly, to save time. Judging by how vigorously and habitually the Palestinians are doing this, it becomes obvious that the endless road barriers are futile. If they want to carry a weapon, they will overload it here, or bypass it through the plantations. It remains to add that at the checkpoint located on a circular road, we did not find a single soldier that day. Apparently, the post is temporarily removed. But the blocks between the villages left. And people continue to suffer.