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The Only Democracy? » On The Ground Reports » Villages Imprisoned, Protesters Arrested, and Trees Uprooted for Wall

Villages Imprisoned, Protesters Arrested, and Trees Uprooted for Wall

From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
Soldiers and Border Police officers imposed curfew this on the village of al-Walaja this morning as olive tree uprooting for the construction of the Wall resumed there and in the adjacent town of Beit Jala, where two demonstrators were injured and two were arrested.

Israeli forces stormed the village of alWalaja this morning, imposing curfew, as bulldozers resumed leveling terrain on the village’s lands for the path of the Wall. Soldiers are patrolling the streets of the village by foot, as well as on horses and all-terrain vehicles, and preventing residents from leaving their houses or being in the streets despite the fact that curfew was not officially announced. Press-card holding cameramen who tried entering the village to film were denied entry by the army.

An Israeli soldier stops Palestinian from Beit Jala from reaching his home during the protest

In the adjacent town of Beit Jala soldiers are gathered in force at the edge of the village preventing land owners from accessing their land. The garden of one of the village’s houses was completely razed by the bulldozers, which are now uprooting an olive grove. Two members of the villages popular committee were beaten up by soldiers. One of those beaten required medical treatment and was evacuated to the Beit Jala hospital. Two Israeli activists who were at the scene were arrested and are currently held by the police.

Construction in both places resumed today after the Israeli Supreme Court lifted an injunction it had previously issued concerning the area.

Al-Walaja is an agrarian village of about 2,000 people, located south of Jerusalem and West of Bethlehem. Following the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank and the redrawing of the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, roughly half the village was annexed by Israel and included in the Jerusalem municipal area. The village’s residents, however did not receive Israeli residency or citizenship, and are considered illegal in their own homes.

Once completed, the path of the Wall is designed to encircle the village’s built-up area entirely, separating the residents from both Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and almost all their lands – roughly 5,000 dunams. Previously, Israeli authorities have already confiscated approximately half of the village’s lands for the building of the Har Gilo  and Gilo settlements, and closed off areas to the south and west of it. The town’s inhabitants have also experienced the cutting down of fruit orchards and house demolition due to the absence of building permits in Area C.

According to a military confiscation order handed to the villagers, the path of the Wall will stretch over 4890 meters between Beit Jala and al-Walaja, affecting 35 families, whose homes may be slated for demolition.

Beit Jala is a predominantly Christian town located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem. Once completed, he Wall will Isolate 3,200 Dunams of the town’s lands, including almost 3,000 Dunams of olive groves and the only recreational forest in the area, the Cremisan monastery and the Cremisan  Cellars winery.

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