Ida Audeh

A Village Mobilized: Lessons from Budrus

The story of the village of Budrus is noteworthy because it reminds us that unarmed people are not powerless. Confronted with an Israeli plan to confiscate 1,000 dunums of village lands to erect a wall that would ultimately enclose area villages in a canton, Budrus residents put their bodies in front of the bulldozers that came to raze their farmlands. Unarmed, and abandoned to their fate by the increasingly useless and indifferent Palestinian Authority, the villagers quickly realized that the wall would stifle the area and make their lives unsustainable. EI contributor Ida Audeh interviews Budrus resident and activist Abd al-Nasser Marrar. 

Deported from our own homeland

On the night of Sunday, July 30, my husband and I became deportees. We had left the West Bank a few days earlier when our one-month visa was due to expire. Since arriving in Ramallah in January 2005, we had been leaving the occupied territories right before our visa expired and re-entering the country to get a new visa at the border. But since the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, we had been hearing about other US passport holders who were being denied re-entry when they left to renew their visas. We left nervously but still thinking we would be able to return, if only for a month. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Jerusalem District)

The 40-100 meter wide, 8-kilometer-long northern Jerusalem wall is designed to isolate the Palestinian community, not to encircle the city. About 800 dunums of land were confiscated from Palestinian owners to build that portion of the wall. Qalandia, north of Jerusalem, is a major checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The wall isolates 30,000 Palestinians in Kafr Aqab and Qalandiya who hold Jerusalem ID cards from the city as well as from family, workplaces, and social and public services. Ida Audeh interviews affected residents. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Bethlehem District)

The Bethlehem district is home to more than 170,000 Palestinians, concentrated mostly in the three towns Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. The wall surrounding the Bethlehem district is a 15-kilometer shackle that segregates 15,000 dunums of agricultural land, mainly olive trees. The wall around Bethlehem serves to isolate and annex the religious areas. Around Rachel’s Tomb and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque, hundreds will be isolated between two walls, further strengthening Israeli control of historic, religious, and deeply significant places and strangling the city economically. Ida Audeh interviews affected residents. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Qalqiliya District)

The wall separates Azzoun (population 7,000) from its agricultural land, which now lies west of the wall. No gate in the wall allows residents access to their lands. As a result they must travel long distances—-approximately 4 kilometers to a gate near Isla to the west, and 9 kilometers to another gate near Nabi Elias, where some land belonging to Azzoun is located. The main roads are often reserved for soldiers and settlers, and so Palestinians are forced to take even longer routes, often on foot, and cannot bring equipment to harvest their crops. This hamlet of 200-250 people, surrounded on three sides by the wall, now lies in the area between the wall and Israel proper; village lands are east of the wall. In the process of creating the wall, Israel destroyed 250 dunums of land, uprooted 2,000 trees, and isolated 5 cisterns beyond the wall; the quality of the drinking water is now questionable. Ida Audeh interviewed affected residents. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Tulkarem District)

With the northern portion of the wall complete, Nazlat Isa (population 2,300) now falls in the no-man’s-land between the wall and Israel proper. Since January 2003, more than 130 commercial buildings and 6 homes have been bulldozed. Residents fear that Israel’s attacks against the commercial sector are designed to force them to leave. Israel confiscated about 300 dunums and uprooted about 5,000 trees when it built the wall in Jarooshiya (population 800); another 100 dunums of land and 2 cisterns became inaccessible, and a 1-kilometer-long irrigation network was destroyed. Villagers now face great difficulty in getting access to health services. The agricultural community of Irtah (population 4,200) has severely limited access to farm lands. To create the wall, Israel destroyed 200 dunums of farmland and uprooted 100 trees. Ida Audeh interviewed affected residents. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Jenin District)

Zububa village (population about 2,000) is located in the northernmost tip of the Jenin district. At least 70 trees were uprooted to make room for the wall, and in some places the wall is no more than 40 or 50 meters away from the closest house. The village has experienced gradual land confiscation since 1948, and villagers now fear that the rest of their land will be confiscated through the wall. Unemployment is high. As a result of the construction of the wall, villagers face environmental and water contamination. in addition, about 950 trees were uprooted and 250 dunums belonging to al-Taybeh village (population about 2,100) were destroyed when the wall was built, and about 250 dunums became inaccessible, for a total of 10% of village lands that were lost to the wall. Villagers no longer have access to the public services they once received from neighboring towns. An additional 25-meter-wide barbed wire barrier built around Al-Taybey, referred to as a “depth barrier,” further impedes Palestinian movement. Ida Audeh interviewed affected residents from both villages. 

Living in the Shadow of the Wall (Introduction)

During its spring 2002 offensive to reoccupy territories under Palestinian Authority (PA) control, and as most of the West Bank was under round-the-clock curfew, Israel confiscated thousands of dunums of Palestinian land to build a wall. One year later, a 145-km-long segment of a much longer wall extends from the northern village of Zububa in the Jenin district to ‘Azzun ‘Atma in the Qalqilya district. Ida Audeh went to the West Bank in August for three weeks to visit family and to learn more about the effect of the wall on the lives of ordinary people and conducted a series of interviews with those affected.