Wallaja - Saturday morning
Nava and I, with a group from Engaged Dharma, came to assist two families whose homes had been demolished three months ago (along with two other homes). We arrived before 8 am on a very beautiful, clear, cold day. The village is imprisoned between the Gilo settlement’s walls and a huge wall erected between the village and its fields. That lovely terraced land is to become part of Refa’im Park, to benefit the residents of Jerusalem. As luck would have it, the wall remained unfinished due to a geological issue discovered during its construction. We passed through this gap to the olive grove and vineyard, next to which had stood the demolished home of their blind owner. He can no longer access his land. We accompanied Yasser, the shepherd, with his small flock of sheep and solitary goat, and Sa’id, the elderly farmer. The abandoned grove and vineyard, beside the destroyed two-storey home, echoed the disaster that befell the family, forced to abandon their home and bit of paradise which it had nurtured for decades.
A stone structure remaining in the grove, constructed from stones of various size in the traditional Palestinian technique, without mortar.
On the hilltop in the background are the buildings of Kiryat Menachem, which was built on the land from which residents of Al Wallaja were expelled in 1948 to where they now live. In 1967, half the area of the village was annexed to Jerusalem.