Bethlehem, Mon 21.12.09, Afternoon

Observers: 
Yael I., Ruth O., Orit Y. and Ilana D. (reporting)
21/12/2009
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Afternoon

From 3:00 till 5:30 PM

Wallaje:    

 It had been a long time since the four of us had met, so in stead ofsplitting up, also because we wanted to celebrate the birthday of one of us(Mazal Tov!), we decided to go out together and treat ourselves to a longoverdue visit to our friend A. and his family in Wallaje.

We were glad that we had not announced our visit earlier, so the‘spread’ was less abundant than usual. Despite the fact that we had talked tohim over the phone and he had informed us that it would take him an hour tocome home, we didn’t see him since it had gotten dark and we left before hearrived.

The Checkpoint under Ein Yael is becoming gradually more formal. Theroad has been improved since it now serves so many more settlers from Har Gilo.Their new neighborhood with palatial villas is hardly a few meters away fromthe upper part of Wallaje and a tall wall will certainly be erected thereshortly.

The house of our friend is being enlarged and the house of his neighbor,which was demolished some years ago, has been newly rebuilt since our lastvisit. His wife F. welcomed us in perfect English and the four children shookhands and introduced themselves in English too. The eldest (now 16 years old)has received driving lessons from his mother in the car, which cannot be usedon the road, since it has no license, but serves the family to get to where thebus stop is, especially if they have heavy loads. She said that he drives verycarefully. He is also in possession of a magnetic card like his mother whovisited her sick father in Ammanin the summer and took three of the children along.

When asked whether they were not afraid that the new construction would bedemolished, she said that the Jerusalem town planners had been in the villagesome time ago and had explained where the wall was going to be and that theentire village would be outside Jerusalem with access only via a tunnel to theenclave of Batir, Nahalin etc. from where they could proceed to Bethlehem – along detour. She is not afraid the Palestinian authority will demolish anyhouses. However, she is very anxious to come and visit Jerusalem once more. We had taken the familyon an outing a year and a half ago and were unable to take them again, sinceshe was not in possession of a magnetic card. Now we can try once more to takeher and the children out for a day to the city.

Her husband again had to wait for almost three weeks  for his working permit, which had lapsed afterthree months. In addition it is hard to find employment. Every day he works sheis happy because it will bring them closer to the completion of the extensionof the house which is very small indeed for a family of five.

The children are extremely well behaved and polite. They go to school inBeit Jalla rather than to the one in Wallaje (which is co-ed), because theycater to the lower grades. F. also stated that she is flat againstco-education. Their days off are on Friday and Sunday. On Saturday they haveclasses.

We didn’t hear any politics, since A. was not around, it may have beenfor the best, because their future looks bleak.