Trapped in no-man's land

Residents of a West Bank village say Israel's separation barrier is restricting their lives.

    Anwar Ziad says he faces problems every day
    trying to go in and out of his village

    Some days they are not so fortunate.

    "We face problems everyday in going and coming, when we buy things and goods, everything needs a permit which is always a hassle," Anwar says.


    There is another way into Berta'a -  via a much more complex vehicle and security checkpoint manned by a private Israeli security company.

    The only other way into Berta'a is
    through a private checkpoint

    Together, these two access points are the only way into this enclave - now trapped in the northwestern corner of the West Bank by Israel's separation wall on one side and the internationally recognised Green Line of the 1967 war on the other.

    It is what the UN is calling the "seam-zone".

    When Israel's 700 km wall is complete, the UN estimates there will be nearly 50,000 Palestinians trapped in the seam zone and that has officials concerned.

    "We are very concerned about people not being able to have easy access out. If you want to get to a hospital and you are in one of these seam-zone areas then you have to go a gate in the wall. That could take some time," says David Shearer, head of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

    Psychological border

    Forbidden from entering Israel and with very restricted access to the West Bank, Berta'a's 5,000 residents here are feeling more and more isolated.

    "Berta'a is nothing but a big cage"

    Raed, Berta'a resident

    "We are really trapped, we are in a psychological border as well as mental as well as physical border," says one man, Raed.

    "Berta'a is nothing but a big cage, within which people inside it can move a bit freely but outside the cage there is no chance to move."

    Israel says its building the separation wall to prevent would-be attackers from striking inside Israel.

    But the route of the wall does not run in Israel - it runs deep into Palestinian territories, which has many wondering about the real motivations behind its construction.

    Lost land

    Many believe it is to confiscate more land for settlements like Shakid that sits a few metres away from Anwar's home.

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    "10.2 per cent of the West Bank, and some of the best West Bank land lies in the area between the Green Line and the wall. If the wall was not inside the West Bank, that land would not have been lost," says David Shearer.

    For 40 years, the residents of Berta'a have watched as boundaries, barriers and walls enclose their communities and restrict their movements and their way of life.

    Many have stopped dreaming what life in the next 40 years will be like. For now, they are just hoping the gate will be open tomorrow.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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