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Al Walaja – A Enclosed Village

Before 1948, Al-Walaja was the largest village in the southwestern Jerusalem region. After the 1948 war, Israel expelled the villagers in the northern village area and confiscated 65% of their land. The refugees from the confiscated area formed a new Al-Walaja on remaining village land. The Israeli authorities of the city of Jerusalem annexed this land after the 1967 War, but did not inform the village residents or provide services, nor give them Jerusalem IDs which would have allowed them easy entrance to work in Jerusalem. Many village refugees had already left the area because of lack of land for agriculture and high unemployment.

Beginning in 1985, more than 40 homes have been demolished, and there continue to be actual or threats of home demolitions. Michigan Peace Teamers visit the family of Ata and Fatima in Al Walaja because they are so welcoming and because the accounts of Ata and Fatima are inspiring and courageous.

Ata and Fatima have seen the houses on both sides of their home demolished despite pleading by families and neighbors. They have seen sheds holding animals bulldozed, killing the animals. Life is not easy for this family with 4 lovely school-age children. The team has seen the illegal apartheid wall enclosing the village and illegal Israeli settlements increase in the past year since they began to visit the family.

Ata after having his Jerusalem work permit denied, received 96 months of house arrest last year with no stated cause, except that his Israeli lawyer said authorities had labeled him an agitator. He has organized and protested the demolition of houses, land confiscations, and the building of illegal Israeli settlements. Through the efforts of his lawyer, which cost about $1500, his house arrest has now been lifted, and he now is able to get a 5 week-temporary work permits which takes 2 weeks [without work] to renew. This family continues their efforts against the wall, telling their story and the story of their village to all who will listen.

Grape vines and olive trees flourish on the hillsides of Al-Walaja.

The first Al Walaja, wooded area and north, was annexed to Jerusalem in 1967.

Fatima embroiders handicrafts to supplement the family income and for gifts. Ata learned to embroider when he had not worked for several months.

Illegal Israeli settlements flank the north of the village.

The stone wall is lovely to view from the settler side, but not through the two rows of barbed wire on the village side.

The illegal apartheid stone wall was built in the last year. When the wall and fence are finished, the village will be surrounded, enclosed, with only one controlled exit manned by the Israeli army.

Coiled barbed wire decorates the second fence.

Protests, demonstrations, and legal actions by villagers have not stopped the illegal wall or the fence.

Illegal Israeli settlements on the east of the village are protected by walls, fences, and gates and are built on confiscated Palestinian land.

More illegal Israeli settlements and more walls and fences. Are walls and fences for security or for securing confiscated land?

More settlements, many of which will sit empty until Jewish immigrants come to fill them. Or they may just remain empty, but secure.

Bypass roads are used only by Israel settlers.

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