Thursday, 18 September 2014

‘This is our land!': West Bank village Wadi Fukin fights largest Israeli land grab in decades

From Mondoweiss - Wadi Fukin may be the smallest of the five villages threatened by Israel’s recent mass land grab, but these days it’s certainly not the quietest.

Leaders in the village of approximately 1,250 have galvanized locals into organizing Friday demonstrations against Israeli occupation for the first time in years, after 4,000 dunams (nearly 1,000 acres) in the southern West Bank was declared “state land,” by Israel. Over a quarter of the confiscated land belongs to Wadi Fukin, which already lost most of its property to the still expanding Israeli settlements of Beitar Illit and Hadar Beitar in the north and Tsur Hadassah in the west after 1967.

“They are planning to make us an island with the settlements surrounding us on all sides,” says Ahmad Sukar, head of the village council. He laments the effect the occupation has had on the small farming community, citing armed settlers who come to picnic in the village’s only playground, or swim in the reservoirs used to irrigate crops.

“These days we are working in two ways. First within the law and the courts. Second, we are protesting to send a message to everyone – settlers, Israelis, Arabs – to show them how we live in Wadi Fukin.”

Sandwiched in a fertile valley between the Green Line and the nearby settlements, Wadi Fukin bears this recent blow in the context of a unique history. After sustaining multiple raids in 1948 by the Zionist paramilitary group, Haganah, Israeli forces completely destroyed Wadi Fukin in the early 50’s with most locals fleeing to Jordan and nearby Dheisheh Refugee Camp.

In an exceptional circumstance, villagers were given the opportunity to return to their land and rebuild in 1972 by Israeli authorities, and have since successfully restored and repopulated the village. It currently falls within Areas B and C, land under de-facto Israeli military and civil control.

On August 31st, four days after the Gaza ceasefire, residents of the Palestinian villages of Husan, Nahalin, Surif, Jabah and Wadi Fukin found dozens of yellow placards in Hebrew and Arabic, delineating the boundaries of the 4,000 dunams of Israeli ‘state land.’ Seen by many as an effort to placate criticism from the right of how he handled the assault on Gaza, Netanyahu announced the expropriation to a flurry of international condemnation. The land grab is the largest of its kind in three decades. more


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