Monday, September 04, 2006
Al Khader in Pictures:
by Frubious Bandersnatch

The building of the Wall around Al Khader village to the north of Bethlehem continues apace. This wall will isolate Al Khader, a farming based community, from 90 % of the land upon which its economy depends, amalgamating it into the larger Bethlehem ghetto. The economy of Bethlehem does not have the capacity to absorb all the extra workers from Al Khader; who will be made jobless either through confiscation of their land or through loss of access to the Israeli jobs market, where many work in construction and other low-paid labouring jobs. Thus the wall literally spells ruin to many families.

Demonstrations at Al Khader have been ongoing all summer, with locals, internationals and Israelis turning out to protest the building of this illegal wall. On some occasions, the demonstration has reached the nearby Israeli by-pass road, where it has been greeted with mixed reactions by passers by. It is sobering to reflect that these may be some of the last times Israelis and residents of Al Khader will see each other for many years; as the wall closes around the village and isolating it from its surroundings.

The atmosphere at demonstrations has generally been fairly good-natured: on one occasion an IDF soldier was spotted turning a sign written in Hebrew and held by a child from Al Khader the right way up, as he was holding it upside down. Many of the IDF soldiers attending the demonstrations have expressed their unhappiness at being there, and have looked fairly uncomfortable at confronting small children with guns and tear gas. Fortunately there have been no incidents of gassing or firing of rubber bullets.

Sadly it seems that the demonstration is running out of energy; partially as a result of the Lebanon war, which coincided with a lack of attendance by Israeli activists who had previously supported the action, and partially due to natural fatigue, as the wall continues to go up, piece by piece, depressingly blocking the view of the surrounding countryside and imprisoning the residents of Al Khader into a ghetto.

This ghettoization of Palestinian communities is something that is ongoing - often overshadowed by noisier and more explosive events. Al Khader is just one community suffering from the effects of this horrific phenomenon. There are many more throughout the south of the West Bank, whereas construction in the North has already crippled many communities such as Qalquiliya and Jayyus to name only a couple. The Israeli government have vowed to finish construction of the Wall by the end of 2007, although due to political tension within Israel it is not clear whether the Kadima party will remain in power and be capable of keeping this pledge. What is clear is that the Wall spells the destruction of livelihoods and the imprisonment of people wherever it is built. Who will stop it?

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