Beitar, Bethlehem, Mon 26.10.09, Afternoon
Ein Yael, Hussan Junction
Bethlehem: introduction: our shift comprises four women, when we can all manage to go out we split up and usually go to two different areas in the same region. Since the Abu Dis region cannot be split up, two of us went to the South in the Bethlehem region.
After having read in the papers about massive construction in Beitar Illith we decided to look for our selves, also because of the discussions re a halt in settlement expansion.
Ein Yael Checkpoint: since we had heard that in this area too there are plans to build a Jewish neighborhood next to and within the village of Wallaje. We couldn't discover any signs of a start of infrastructure except for new trees that had been planted. The soldier at the checkpoint was also unaware of any new infrastructure.
Hussan Junction: many cabs were waiting for the workers to return home from work. When we asked them whether the underpass under Road 60 serving the seven villages to reach El Khader and Bethlehem was already functioning, they said: Yes and No. And indeed what we saw was exactly like their definition.
The road from Hussan is not asphalted and cannot be traveled on. However, the cabdrivers found a short-cut dusty path which connects the junction itself with the underpass. The cars cause clouds of dust and get very dirty, but continue nevertheless. What will happen in the winter?
Beitar Illith: To an unprofessional eye it looks as if the place had doubled in size since we last visited over a year ago. It also excels in its vast wide roads, its maintenance and cleanliness. At a number of sites within the built-up area are construction sites for public buildings, yeshivas, schools and nursery schools (some of which declare that only Yiddish is spoken). We asked some pedestrians about the construction of new neighborhoods and were directed to the outskirts of the city. At one place the contractor told us that 85 units were being constructed at that site, but if we were to continue further to the west we would find much more construction of residential units. We continued and found the place which is located in the continuation of the city itself. At this point infrastructure works are carried out for an additional 120 units. The first impression is extremely difficult. The new neighborhood under construction immediately borders or even reaches into the orchards and houses of the village of Wadi Fuqin. The contractor building at that site (a totally secular man) approached us and started explaining without asking who we were (we had removed our MW-tags) that the tenders for this site had already been issued more than two years ago. According to him there are at least four construction companies working in Beitar Illith adding at least 300 apartments at once.