Israel began to wall in the Bethlehem ghetto in 2002, constructing sections of electrified fence around the city of Beit Jala and on lands belonging to Bethlehem and Beit Sahour sprawling below the massive illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa. In 2003, more of the Wall was hastily erected further around Beit Jala, Bethlehem and Beit Sahour. It wasn’t until 2004 that Israeli occupying forces brought in the massive cement panels that have come to characterize Israel’s Apartheid project and the Palestinian ghettos it is creating. In June of 2004 Israel built sections of cement wall around the northern entrance to Bethlehem, the historic road linking the city to Jerusalem, and up against the neighboring Aida Refugee Camp. They left open the section between the Bethlehem checkpoint and the Israeli fortress at the holy site of Rachel’s Tomb.
This map details the wall construction around Bethlehem's northern entrance. The yellow section was built in 2003, the blue in 2004, and the red and purple sections are currently under construction:
Map courtesy of the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem (July 2004).
A group of Palestinian homes, inhabited by 3 families, and a goldsmith shop will soon be surrounded by the wall and cut-off from the rest of Bethlehem. Below is a series of photos of the wall growing around Bethlehem’s northern entrance over the last month:
One month ago, however, Israeli bulldozers were back at work, closing the gaps in the wall around Bethlehem. The path of the wall in this area is typical. The wall presses up against Palestinian homes and a large olive grove is cut off and de-facto annexed to Israel. The wall will also cut inside a Palestinian residential area to allow Jewish worshipers access to Rachel’s Tomb. The Tomb is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, but Israeli occupying forces only allow Jews to visit the site which is surrounded by cement walls, sniper towers, video cameras and razor-wire.
Updated map of the wall in the entire West Bank (from NAD/NSU)
The Electroni Intifada's Apartheid Wall Focus Page
The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign