This morning the sun rose over a new part of the ugly wall eating into the Caritas/Rachel's Tomb neighborhood of Bethlehem.
The effect of seeing new parts of the wall is still horrifying, sometimes one seems to have gotten used to the sight, then suddenly one day you turn a corner, and it has eaten new land, poisoned new neighborhoods.
The view is hard to describe as other than ugly and evil. 8 meters of grey concrete cutting through everything. Today the view has it all; armed Israeli security guards, Palestinian workers physically building the monster, barbed wire, Israeli flags, a watch tower, emptied out apartment buildings where the soldiers have taken their posts and covered with army camouflage textiles, and parts of the Gilo settlement in the distance.
This view and this wall symbolize the ugliness and evilness of the whole occupation, from day one.
The Palestinian owners of this land went to court to protest the confiscation, but they did not get any way with it. For any case in court where the justification is "security", the battle is lost even before it started.
Behind lays Rachel's Tomb, where Jewish come to pray in busloads. Apparently this new part of the wall is to encircle a parking lot for Rachel's tomb. When the Palestinian owners of the land heard this they claimed compensation. But of course there is no such thing as compensation for the ongoing theft of Palestinian land.
Across the street from this new wall lays Bethlehem Hotel.
One of the owners is standing across the street from it, gazing at the workers and the crane placing yet another block of concrete on the ground, blocking his view to the olive groves opposite.
The wall admiring its own reflection in a window of Bethlehem Hotel
In the great hopes and optimism of the Bethlehem 2000 project, this hotel was one of many that sprang up in the belief that tourism would only increase in the next few years.
Then the Intifada started and as the Israeli army invaded Bethlehem, the soldiers set up an army post in the Hotel before it even had opened for tourists. As one of several lookouts in the area around Rachel's tomb, this one remained for 4 years. Today the soldiers are no longer posted here, but the hotel is closed, everything inside is broken the owner tells me. The entrance is barred up with bricks, all the windows are broken, and rotten mattresses is all whats left hanging out of one of the windows.
The hopes for tourists and guests in the future, dwindles for every block of concrete placed on the ground on the other side of the road.
As the peace talks continue amongst high-ranking politicians, new "facts on the ground" are constantly developing amongst the Palestinians on the street.