Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Bethlehem (300), Walaja, Thu 9.2.12, Afternoon
From 2:30 till 5:00 PM
Wallaje : after driving along the Beit Jalla DCO (near the Everest Hotel) past the rehabilitation center, the Cremisan Convent and its Monastery we viewed the tunnel next to Omar’s house in Wallaje and descended to the home of our friend A. whose yard has been decimated by the preparations for the wall which is getting closer.
A. and his wife greeted us with big smiles despite the terrible situation. Many of his trees died (even those that were not uprooted to make space for the wall) because of the dust and all his bees have fled because of the noise of the bulldozers and their clouds of dust. He told us that the court had decided that the width of the damage should be ‘minimized’ and every day he approaches the contractor to point out this fact, but to no avail.
Two of their sons are now abroad. The older one a qualified electrician who could not make enough money without a permit and only earned about 60 Shekels a day in Bethlehem had joined a groups of Israelis and Palestinians on a trip to Germany where he defected and traveled to Sweden where he requested refugee status. He has now acquired refugee status and is studying the language. The younger son, a plumber, had been jailed for trying to work in Israel illegally and afterwards tried his luck and opened a bakery in Jericho, but he went bankrupt and has a debt of 12,000 Shekels. His father was very afraid he would do ‘something terrible’, since there is no future for him. He was blaming his parents for being born and finally was able to leave for Moscow where he had a cousin who studies medicine. He had traveled to Amman to obtain a visa, but had to return to the West Bank to apply in Ramalla (a waste of another 2,000 Shekels). He works a little in construction, but now with the sub-zero temperatures there is no work and he is lonely and miserable. Life is very expensive in Russia. They call the boys once a week from their cell phone, since the boys have no money.
A cousin from Beit Jalla walked in with his neighbor and brought him about twenty apricot samplings (A’s wife joked that their sheep would ‘love’ to have them as a snack). He is a farmer who used to own a textile factory. The neighbor told us that he is living next to his almost 100-year old father. The old man has another son (his brother) who lives in Amman, is around 70 years old and has a wife and six children. He had applied a number of times for a visa to visit his old father before he might die and was refused (no reason given). A cousin who is an Israeli citizen acted as the guarantor to make sure he would return home after the visit, but to no avail. We gave him the number of people at the “Moked” and they may try and apply to “Gisha” on his behalf. He will send us by fax all the details.