[News] Israel to move checkpoint further into al-Walaja, cutting villagers off from spring

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 17 14:22:09 EST 2017

  Israel to move checkpoint further into al-Walaja, cutting villagers
  off from spring

Nov. 17, 2017 - http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779487

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli government has reportedly informed the 
Palestinian residents of al-Walaja village, located in the southern 
occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, just on the border of Israel’s 
Jerusalem municipality, that they are to be cut off from a large portion 
of their lands due to the relocation of a checkpoint in the area.

Israeli news daily Haaretz reported 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823113> that an Israeli 
Jerusalem district planning committee announced that the Ein Yael 
checkpoint between Jerusalem and the illegal Har Gilo settlement -- 
which was built on al-Walaja’s lands -- would move deeper into 
Palestinian area, where it will become part of the “Jerusalem 
metropolitan park.”

Inside the land that is to be annexed, is the Ain al-Haniya spring, the 
second-largest spring in the occupied West Bank according to Haaretz. 
The spring is also one of the main water sources for the residents’ 
livestock to bathe and drink from, and also serves as a recreational 
spring for the people of the surrounding areas, who flock to the spring 
to picnic and swim.

According to Haaretz, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Jerusalem 
Development Authority have already started renovation work at the spring 
and the surrounding areas, and plan on surrounding the spring with a 
fence, building a visitors center and a restaurant and turning it into 
one of the entrances to Jerusalem’s metropolitan park -- a park where 
the residents of al-Walaja and Bethlehem would not be able to access 
without special permits.

Haaretz reported that the resident of al-Walaja received letters telling 
them that the checkpoint will be moved closer to their village, some two 
and a half kilometers deeper into Palestinian territory from where it is 
currently located.

The villagers were reportedly given 15 days to appeal the decision.

Once the checkpoint is relocated, Palestinians without Jerusalem 
resident papers or Israeli-issued visitor permits will not be allowed to 
pass through it and will be prevented from accessing the spring, fields, 
and farming terraces to which they have tended to for generations.

“Ironically, the well-groomed, carefully tended terraces that 
al-Walaja’s residents have nurtured over the years were one of the 
reasons given by the Israeli authorities for setting up a park in the 
area,” Haaretz said.

Haaretz quoted Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Israeli NGO Ir Amim as 
saying that “Israelis will stroll among the beautiful terraces, tended 
to and fostered by al-Walaja residents, with the land owners locked 
behind a barbed wire fence a few dozen meters away, unable to come to 
the lands that were robbed from them.”

“That’s the rightist government’s vision: instead of peace and justice, 
fences and increasingly brutal oppression,” he said.

The village of al-Walaja has long been the target of Israeli land 
confiscations and mass Israeli demolitions for the purpose of expanding 
Israel’s illegal settlements and advancing the construction of Israel’s 
separation wall -- deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice 
in 2004.

At the end of April, Israel resumed construction of the separation wall 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776783>in the village after a 
three-year hiatus.
Residents of al-Walaja lost over three-quarters of their lands 
the state of Israel was established in 1948, when most of the village’s 
residents became refugees.

During Israel’s military takeover of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 
1967, 50 percent of al-Walaja’s lands were annexed to the Jerusalem 

Meanwhile, Israel’s separation wall encircles al-Walaja, and swathes of 
land have been re-appropriated by the Israeli government for the 
construction and expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo, 
Har Gilo, and Givat Yael.
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