Friends of Wadi Fuqeen
Working for a just and sustainable future for the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen

The land grabs

Thousands of dunams of village land have already been illegally expropriated by the occupying Israeli authorities for the illegal Jewish settlements that are fast encroaching upon Wadi Fuqeen, threatening its very existence. Moreover, thousands of tons of earth have been deposited on olive orchards in the valley and sewage effluent from the settlement has regularly overflowed onto village fields. This has prevented farmers from using their land. Obviously, the affected produce cannot be sold. When villagers complain to the Israelis, the response is slow, if it comes at all.

The sewage has now poisoned the earth and the farmers are giving up. This is significant because, if land is seen not to be in constant use, the Israelis can - and do - expropriate it.

A four-lane regional highway passing through the valley is planned, to connect Gush Etzion and Beitar Illit with the Tsoor Haddasa-Husan road. This constitutes a major threat to the community socially, economically and environmentally, through loss of land, access, services and opportunity to grow. The exact route is not known but plans suggest that the road may cut the village off completely from their cultivated agricultural lands to the south.

And it is important to realise at this point that Palestinians
A digger expanding an illegal Jewish settlement
An Israeli digger at work expanding an Israeli settlement just metres away from homes situated at the village boundaries

are not allowed to use 'settler roads' built by the Israelis. They
will not benefit in any way from this 'road building programme'.

Land appropriations are likely to be massive, but in common
with other towns and villages affected, little warning is given
and uncertainty creates instability and worry.

Access to and from Wadi Fuqeen andthe rest of the West Bank
is expected to be severely restricted.

It is not clear what means of passage will exist across the settler
'by-pass' road No. 375 at the northern end of the village to allow
controlled access to the neighbouring village of Husan and thereby
to the Israeli checkpoint at Al-Khader.

This will still be the villagers' only point of access to Bethlehem
and the West Bank and they will have no guaranteed or
straightforward access to friends and family, food and supplies,
hospitals and medical services, places
of work, education and worship.

The speculative nature of much of the information available
reflects a pattern, already observed throughout the West Bank,
with respect to settlements and the Wall.

Deliberate lack of clarity from the Israeli authorities creates
Road to Wadi Fuqeen
Access to and from Wadi Fuqeen and the rest of the West Bank is expected to be severely restricted

uncertainty and confusion, which in turn hinders an effective
legal response.

But how can land be expropriated and houses, trees and terraces be demolished?

The legal orders rest on the Israeli assertion that the land has always been
'state' land to which the villagers have no rights. Thus, when the villagers
are cut off from the land in question either by the separation barrier or road
barrier, the Israeli Authorities can refute any claim of hardship or suffering by
denying them ownership.

The expropriations in Wadi Fuqeen are typical of the widespread policy of
settlement expansion, land-grab and population transfer which continues to
change the facts on the ground in the Occupied Territories.

The latest area of land marked for seizure by the Israeli Government has
been cultivated by its Arab owners from time immemorial. Logically speaking,
therefore, it is their land - land that they inherited from the forefathers.

The land at issue is located within the village limits that were established in
Wadi Fuqeen farmland
The village is heavily dependent upon agriculture. Village land currently marked for seizure by the Israeli government has been cultivated by its Arab owners from time immemorial

1948. It is planted with olive trees, grapes and other sources of food.

But the land is much more than just a source of food. This land is part of
the villager' past. It was inherited from their ancestors, and it is marked with
sweet memories. These are not just individual memories; they are also
collective community memories that stretch way, way back into the past.

The land is a pivotal part of their present life too. It is the source of food
for the children. It is work. It is pride taken in that work. It is joy derived
from nature. It is their landscape. It is their sense of community. It is their
sense of self.

It is also the basis of any future hopes they may still carry. How will they
survive without it? The hard fact is that it is also the only space the
village has left to grow and expand into. For example, where do young
people who want to get married and start a family put their homes? There
will now be absolutely no available space.

Wadi Fuqeen lost 80% of its original lands following the establishment
of the state of Israel in 1948. At that time, the village lost huge tracts of
land from its western limits due to the creation of Israel's new borders.

Later on, the creation of the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit consumed more
lands on the eastern side of the village.

It loses more and more land every day. This is not a just or sustainable situation.

Want to know more about the village's history?

Of 419 Palestinian villages completely destroyed when the State of Israel was established, Wadi Fuqeen alone was allowed to re-build - 24 years later. The villagers' experience as refugees and their stories are related in David Grossman's book, The Yellow Wind.

For a summary of the challenges and threats facing Wadi Fuqeen as a result of the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit and the Apartheid Wall, click here.
Copyright (c) 2007-08 Friends of Wadi Fuqeen. Empowered by