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In Pictures
In Pictures: Village fights for survival
Israeli settlements and its wall in the West Bank threatens the village Wadi Fukin.
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2011 17:01

Wadi Fukin village, which sits just west of Bethlehem along the 1967 border, was destroyed when the Israeli army dynamited much of the town during and in the years following the 1948 war, and then rebuilt when residents returned almost 20 years later. It was the only time, as far as many Palestinians can recall, that residents rebuilt a town destroyed in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Now the town's 1,200 residents are facing what many fear could be its second death. The neighbouring Beitar Illit settlement has the highest birthrate of any settlement in the occupied West Bank and currently houses more than 40,000 Israeli settlers. The expanding settlement, deemed illegal under international law, continues to take more of Wadi Fukin's land.

Ironically, it is often the men from Wadi Fukin who run the jackhammers and build the settlement's multi-story homes. Land confiscation, along with cheap Israeli produce that has flooded the Palestinian markets, is putting farmers in this verdant valley out of business and pushing them into construction jobs within the settlement. Under the proposed route of the Israeli wall, Wadi Fukin will eventually be surrounded on three sides, cutting the village off from the rest of the West Bank.

1) Yousef Manasra, 87, raises his cane in frustration as he looks at the Beitar Illit settlement on the hill above Wadi Fukin on December 30, 2009. "As much as life squeezes us ... we are still holding on tightly to our land, still holding on to our homeland," he said [Jakob Schiller]

 

2) A farmer and sheep herder pass each other on one of the main roads in Wadi Fukin on January 2, 2010. The town, which is fed by several springs, used to be known as the breadbasket for the nearby city of Bethlehem. Today, few people still work the land because they have to compete with cheaper produce, imported from Israel's large-scale farms [Jakob Schiller]

 

3) Men from the town of Wadi Fukin participate in a wedding celebration on June 3, 2011 [Jakob Schiller]

 

4) Young boys from the town of Wadi Fukin jump into an irrigation pool to cool off on June 2, 2011. Farmers in Wadi Fukin use the pools to store water from the natural springs that flow into the valley [Jakob Schiller]

 

5) Maher Sukkar harvests turnips from his land in Wadi Fukin on December 29, 2009 [Jakob Schiller]

 

6) Since it is difficult for farmers to sell goods in the market, most of the food grown in Wadi Fukin is eaten by the community. Some of the crops include wheat, cabbage, turnips and chili peppers [Jakob Schiller]

 

7) Ibrahim Manasra tends to one of his sheep while they graze above his house in Wadi Fukin on January 1, 2010. Manasra is part of the first generation in Wadi Fukin who can no longer make a living from the land. At one point he was forced to drive a cement truck in the Beitar Illit settlement to support his family [Jakob Schiller]

 

8) Two young men from the town of Wadi Fukin sneak through a fence on their way to work illegally in the Beitar Illit settlement on December 29, 2009. The Israeli occupation prevents residents in Wadi Fukin from earning their traditional living in agriculture, so most of the young men now make their living by working construction in nearby settlements or in Israel. "At the end of the day, people need money and a source of income for their families - and the only available source of income to be seen for Wadi Fukin, and maybe many communities around it, is work inside the settlements themselves; building these same settlements that suffocate them," said Suhail Khalilieh, who monitors settlements for the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem, a Palestinian think tank [Jakob Schiller]

 

9) Wael Manasra, 34, helps his four-year-old son, Adel, with his homework on January 1, 2010. Last year, Wael illegally snuck into Israel to work on a housing development. While he was there, he fell off a set of scaffolding and knocked out his front teeth. Bloody and in shock he had to spend the night hiding on a rooftop before he could sneak back into Palestine. Since his accident he has lost 30 pounds, because he can't eat solid foods. He's currently trying to save enough money for a set of dentures [Jakob Schiller]

 

10) Wisam Manasra, 25, gets his hair cut by Nader Manasra on March 28, 2006. At the time, Wisam wanted to attend a university and work as a journalist, but feared it would be impossible with Israel's impending wall. Instead, he left Wadi Fukin after marrying a US citizen he met online. He now lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and works the night shift at a bakery [Jakob Schiller]

 

11) Men dance during a wedding celebration in Wadi Fukin on June 2, 2011. The lights from the nearby Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit can be seen in the distance [Jakob Schiller]

 

12) Ibrahim Manasra plays with his grandkids Malik, 13 (L), and Sameh, 14, in Wadi Fukin on January 1, 2010 [Jakob Schiller]

 

13) An abandoned couch sits in front of the Israeli wall near the Palestinian town of al-Walaja, located just northeast of Wadi Fukin. The wall will eventually surround Wadi Fukin on three sides, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank [Jakob Schiller]

 

14) Mohammed Mizher (L) and Mohammed Fahri, both 11, point out where they live in Wadi Fukin on December 31, 2009 [Jakob Schiller]

 

15) Majid Atta, 9, in Wadi Fukin on June 2, 2011 [Jakob Schiller]

For more information visit jakobschiller.com

Source:
Al Jazeera
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