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MPT’ers met Mazin Qumsiyeh in Al Walaja

"Wall being constructed, after cutting down trees"
Michigan Peace Team met with Mazin Qumsiyeh, a university professor of genetics who teaches at Yale and University of Bethlehem. Attending one of his seminars, MPT’ers learned about the troubles of the Bethlehem District; of which only 20% is allowed for Palestinians. The lecture was held right next to the
Dheisheh Refugee Camp; one the largest areas of buildup for Palestinians. The camp having expanded since its creation in 1949 was set up primarily for 3,400 refuges of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
After the seminar, Professor Qumsiyeh then led MPT and Italian peace activists to Al Walaja a small village outside of Bethlehem that is currently being enclosed by the separation wall on all sides. During MPT’s visit we met with a village farmer who watches daily as the wall is being constructed in back of his home, within feet of his small farm. When MPT’ers arrived to see how close the wall was being built, almost immediately the construction was halted. Within five minutes the Israeli Police came onto the farmers land questioning who the internationals were and why they were there. Not wanting to escalate the situation, Professor Qumsiyeh, MPT and the Italian activists decided to retreat to the farmer’s house. One can quickly recognize after visiting the farmer in Al Walaja and witnessing the construction of the settlement wall, the Israeli police don’t want internationals taking pictures of the wall being built. If people are not allowed to simply watch a wall being built on a friend’s property, one must ask what Israel is so concerned about? Perhaps, it is because Israel is aware that international law is being broken.

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