Israeli-occupied Palestinian
Israeli-occupied Palestinian

by Saud Abu Ramadan, Emad Drimly

RAMALLAH, July 4 (Xinhua) — The fear from the impending Israeli plan to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank has cast a shadow on the Palestinian residents of al-Walaja village, northwest of Bethlehem City, as the Palestinian village is being surrounded by several Israeli settlements.

Sitting at the balcony of his house, Ammar Abu al-Teen, an employee for the Palestinian Authority, was brooding over the fate of his family in case Israel implements its annexation plan that covers al-Walaja village.

The 40-year-old man lives with his eight family members in a two-storey house which is close to the Israeli West Bank barrier, a separation wall that Israel has been building since 2002.

“We suffer a lot because of the difficult situation in the village as a result of the Israeli measures as well as the Israeli settlers’ harassments,” he said.

The Israeli authorities storm the village on an almost daily basis, notifying the residents that their homes will be demolished for being built without a license, according to Abu al-Teen.

“The village is subjected to actual annexation for many years through demolishing homes to displace the residents and replace them by settlers,” the Palestinian man told Xinhua, expressing a deep fear about the bulldozing and demolition in his village.

“The fate of the villagers is unknown if Israel carries out the annexation plan,” he noted.

Since 2002, the Israeli separation wall has turned al-Walaja village, home of 3,000 Palestinians, into an isolated enclave, as the village, originally covering an area of 1,700 hectares, has now shrunk to merely 250 hectares with all the other parts under the full control of Israel.

Omar Hajajla, another resident of the village, also voiced angst about the Israeli separation wall and the relentless expansion of settlements.

The 52-year-old and his family, whose house is surrounded by a wall and an electronic gate, have to move through a tunnel under the wall, with cameras monitoring them around the clock.

Over the past few years, Hajajla has been engaged in legal battles in the Israeli court against the damage to his house that overlooks the holy city of Jerusalem, before the court has finally decided not to have his house demolished because it is close to the wall.

“After the Israeli authorities have failed to demolish my house as a result of my steadfastness, they tried to offer me and my family members an Israeli nationality in order to build the wall on my land, but I refused,” he said.

Khader al-Araj, head of the municipal council of al-Walaja village, said Israel “always tries to obstruct the vital projects in the village, mainly infrastructure and road building.”

“Since the beginning of 2020, the Israeli occupation forces have demolished 10 houses in the village, while about 70 others are under the threat of demolition,” al-Araj told Xinhua.

“We insist that we will stay on our land and will never leave it,” he stressed. Enditem

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