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Separation Barrier to sever Beit Iksa from its land

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By Calum Toogood - January 21, 2013
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [Beit Iksa] [E1] [Eviction] [Popular struggle committee]

Beit Iksa has become one of the latest villages affected by Israel’s on going construction of the separation Wall. The village has been issued with notices ordering the confiscation of 456 dunams, on which the proposed section of the Wall will be built. Such a construction would completely surround the village, geographically cutting it off from Jerusalem as well as suffocating it from the majority of agricultural lands owned by the villagers.

In protest to this announcement the villagers set up a tent village called Bab Al Karamah on Friday 18th January, which was subsequently destroyed by the Israeli forces.

The separation barrier, often referred to as the “Apartheid Wall”, has been proposed on this location by the Israeli authorities for what they claim to be security purposes. Beit Iksa is in close proximity to the settlement of Ramot, to the east, and it lies just north of the Green Line.

The total land owned by the residents of Beit Iksa covers around 15,000 dunams. It stretches beyond the Green Line and encompasses the land on which Ramot has been built.

The Wall would tightly surround the village so that around 12,000 dunams of villagers’ land would be outside the route of the wall.

Around 40% of the village’s working population depends upon agriculture to support themselves and their families. At present the villagers are unaware what will happen to their land after the Wall is built.

In the case of many other villages in the West Bank cut off from farmlands, they are either completely denied access to their land or are allowed to enter only at certain times in the year. This is usually initiated through issuing a permit system and the use of agricultural gates.

The village of Beit Iksa is already partially severed from the rest of the West Bank; a section of the Wall already exists between it and the surrounding Palestinian villages.

At the entrance to the village there is a military checkpoint where many villagers and visitors trying to enter Beit Iksa are regularly scrutinized as to their reasons for entering. On many occasions those trying to enter the village are turned away by the Israeli military operating there.

“If it is for security reasons why don’t they build it on the border of the settlements and leave us on our land?” Kamal Hababeh, the head of the village council in Beit Iksa, asked. “Why are they going to build inside our lands and on the borders of our houses? I think the main reason for building this wall is just for the confiscation of our lands.”

If it is for security reasons why don’t they build it on the border of the settlements and leave us on our land

At present, the village council is trying to appoint a lawyer and to contact human rights institutions to help them in their case against the construction of the Wall. The villagers have little hope for victory in a court case, citing that through previous experience many of the Israeli judges are associated with the right-wing side of Israeli politics.
Since the village has received this order for the confiscation of their lands for the wall, they have received no contact or support from officials within the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Hababeh continues to say that as soon as the Israeli authorities begin building the Wall, the village of Beit Iksa will attempt to hold weekly demonstrations against its construction. Due to the small population of the village compared to the other villages that participate in non-violent resistance he is unsure how successful such demonstrations will become. The population of Beit Iksa is only around 1700.

Before the ethnic cleansing in 1948 Beit Iksa was one of the largest populaces in the area; the surrounding area was also home to many other villages. After the war in 1967 many of villagers fled to Jordan, and in the aftermath the population of Beit Iksa depleted from 2000 to around 500. At present, there are around 27,000 Palestinians from Beit Iksa, the majority of which are residing in Jordan.

At this point the Israeli authorities declared much of the village’s land as Area C, only leaving around 500 dunams on which the village could expand. If a house was to be constructed outside the designated village lands it would be demolished by the Israeli forces.

Two years ago the Israelis blocked the road which connected Beit Iksa to Jerusalem. From Beit Iksa to the centre of Jerusalem the journey usually took around 15 minutes. Since the prevention of using this road, the journey now takes over an hour.

Residents of Beit Iksa who work in Jerusalem must first travel to Qalandiya checkpoint before travelling on to Jerusalem.

No information has been given as to when the construction of the Wall will begin.

On Friday 18th January the village of Beit Iksa constructed a tent village on the lands that are due to be confiscated for the building of the barrier. The village was named Bab Al Karameh, meaning Gate of Dignity.

Five tents were set up on the land with around fifty activists in attendance. During the Friday prayers around 400 people were said to have visited the site to pray.

Similar to the concept behind the recent Bab Al Shams village in E1, the village of Bab Al Karameh is a protest to the proposed confiscation of Beit Iksa’s land.

“Netanyahu, Barak, any [Israeli] politician must understand there is no solution through violence,” Dr.Said Yakin told Palestine Monitor whilst attending the protest. “The Palestinian people as with all of the people all over the world are human. We want to live as human beings. This situation is very hard for me. This village, all of the people in here, we don’t like the violence. So we hope our message will reach the democratic powers, especially in Europe and the United States, that we are victims.”

The Israeli military closed the checkpoint at the entrance to the village for much of the duration of this protest, preventing many people from reaching Beit Iksa and Bab Al Karameh.

On Sunday night the Israeli forces evicted the activists and razed the village of Bab Al Karameh.

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