Al Walaja: The Story of a Shrinking Village from Julie Land on Vimeo.
November 30, 2013 from Julie Land and Alison Morgan
An armoured digger was rumbling slowly up through the military construction site toward a new piece of the separation wall that is being built at Al Walaja. The wall is slicing through Palestinian land to surround the growing Israeli settlement of Har Gilo, which is taking over much of the hill on which Al Walaja, an extended farming village, is located. Over 100 Palestinian houses have been demolished for it. Just round the corner is Cremisan monastery, a well-run estate managed by the Salesians, an ancient Christian sect here in Bethlehem – its land is going to be sliced through by the new wall. It’s crazy.
|Wall in construction at Al Walaja|
Ishmael was getting nervous. There was an armoured police van cruising around watching us, and he knew it would be waiting for us further on, watching what we were doing. I obliged, stopped photographing and hopped back in the car. “If there’s a problem, Ishmael, I’ll handle it – you’re just an innocent taxi-driver, okay?” But I knew he was concerned because his son Tareq had been released from Israeli jail only a few months ago, during the big release Hamas had fixed in return for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and the Israelis are now going around re-arresting some of those who were released. Not because many of them are doing anything suspicious, but they are suspected of possibly doing something – and that, to the Israelis is enough. Enough to give them an excuse to bomb Gaza a week or two ago, killing over 20 people and wounding nearly a hundred.
In the unlikely event that I got arrested, I could talk my way out of it, cite a few names and, at worst, waste 24 hours, but for Ishmael and people like him it’s a very different story. He’s an inmate of Deheisheh refugee camp, which immediately makes him suspect, even though he is the least troublesome man you could imagine – respectable, cautious, law-abiding (though Palestinians have a free-style approach to law, not least because many of the laws applied to them are nonsensical, giving new meaning to the term ‘criminal law’). ... Full article