The villagers of Al Walaja held a rally yesterday to protest the building of the wall on their lands, and the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.
Banners read Save our Homes, Let our children feel alive, and Don't destroy my home.
Earlier this week construction of the Wall began on Walaja's Land. A notice was put up which says anyone coming close to this part of the land endangers their life - land owned and inhabited by Walaja for generations - and trees belonging to Walaja were cut down.
A court order, obtained by the lawyers for the village, states that no trees on their land can be uprooted. But technically they weren't being uprooted; they were just being cut! An Israeli journalist explained that when he called the spokesperson responsible for this, they openly said that they had done so to prevent the trees from bearing any fruit for the next few years...
Adel Atrash, from Walaja municipal council, explained that there were 250 trees cut this way, and about 200 square dunams stolen from the village.
Anyone who passes this point does so at their own risk...
This is reminiscent of methods used by the Israeli government in the Negev, where they had been spraying chemicals onto the land of Bedouin tribes who refused to leave their land. A court order ruled that the spraying of those crops was illegal, so they decided to use a different method for the same purpose: they now uproot the land with ploughs, ruining the crops owned by Palestinians.
This use of loopholes in the laws which are supposed to protect Palestinian lands in Israel or the West Bank shows us that whatever the Israeli army wants to do, it can and will find a way.
Olive trees cut but not uprooted; an Israeli army jeep keeps an eye on the protest from a distance.
The people of Walaja are calling for support in their fight to literally save their village. Walaja has a population of around 5,000, and currently has around twenty households with fines of up to 200,000 NIS for being built without a permit - this derives from the fact that Israel annexed part of Walaja into the arbitrary borders of Jerusalem in 1981, so they have to gain permission to drive, to build, to simply exist or even breath the air in the Ein Jawayzeh neighbourhood, which is part of Walaja.
In the words of Atrash:
They want our land but without the people.
Palestinians Israelis and internationals survey the new damage done to Walaja's land.
Known elsewhere as ethnic cleansing, what is happening in Walaja is a continuation of the Zionist expansionist policies carried out since the State of Israel was violently created in 1948. Not able to simply expel Palestinians from their land due to the international condemnation this would evoke today, the Israeli state instead carries out a policy of silent transfer, using legal terms such as housing permits, driving permits or security barriers.
And all this is happening in a new era of so-called ceasefires, peace talks and negotiations. Adel Atrash, in a statement read out to the rally of a couple of hundred people, called on the Palestinian Authority to fight for their village and for:
International human rights organizations to help us, and let the world hear our voice.Whether "the world" listens to the increasingly desperate voice of Walaja, is another matter.