Life next to the separation wall, with Israeli soldiers on the roof
The Hassan family was only allowed to come back to their house in 2010. For five years, after the Israelis built the separation wall right through one of the walls of their home, they were forbidden to enter. They waged a long legal battle to show that the property was theirs. They won and today eight members of the family live in the three-storey house.
Israel’s separation wall running through the Hassan family home (photo: Gustav Winters)
But they still can’t access their own roof– Israeli forces constructed a surveillance tower on Hassan’s roof and visit it at least once a week.
An Israeli military post on top of the Hassan family home (photo Gustav Winters)
While the Hassan family offers an extreme example, the wall has affected, to some extent, all of the 4,000 Palestinians that live in the village of Nazlat ‘Isa, which is 15 kilometers northeast of Tulkarem.
The space between the barrier and the houses in Nazlat ‘Isa is very narrow. In some parts, only two people fit. The village’s main road ends, abruptly, at the eight-meter-high concrete wall. From 2002 to 2005, the Israelis used an electronic fence to divide the village from other parts of the West Bank. The fence was inside the Green Line. But when the Israeli authorities began building the wall, they retreated back to the Green Line, a rare case in the West Bank.
The separation barrier runs close to this house (photo: Gustav Winters)
The building of the wall disrupted commerce, cultural life and family ties. And it also trapped seven families with West Bank IDs on the Israeli side of the Green Line.
From 1949 when the Green Line was drawn as part of the armistice agreements signed by Israel and her neighbors, to 2002 when the fence was erected, Palestinians moved freely from Nazlat ‘Isa and neighboring Baqa al-Sharquia to the big city of Baqa- al Gharbiyye, which is located in Israeli territory. Although they had green West Bank IDs, they could move with their families to the other side. When the Israeli authorities made the decision to enclose the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the fence was built, seven families from Nazlat ‘Isa were living in Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
Today, they can’t apply for citizenship, like the rest of their neighbors, or even residency, like Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
In 1948, Nazlat ‘Issa lost 10,000 of its 12,400 dunams of land. They lost another 824 dunams for the construction of the separation wall. Prior to 1948, 97 percent of the villagers were farmers. Today, in the wake of the destruction of the local market and factories due to the construction of the separation barrier, 97 percent of those villagers are unemployed.
The neighboring village of Baqa al-Sharquia suffered the same fate. Around 2,000 dunams were confiscated for the building of the wall and 2,500 olive trees were uprooted and taken to the Israeli side for replanting. This larger village was even more connected to its Israeli sister city, Baqa al-Gharbiyye. Their only connection nowadays is through the Israeli controlled gates.
The separation wall separates not just Palestinians from Israelis but Palestinians from Palestinians (photo: Gustav Winters)
This area provides a clear example of how one of the main objectives of the wall is to separate Palestinians from Palestinians, disrupt their commercial centers and their family ties.
While its West Bank sister villages were enclosed by the wall, checkpoints, and gates, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, a completely Palestinian community, grew throughout the last six decades from a village to a city. Projections show that in less than ten years, the city will have 38,000 inhabitants, which will make it one of the major Palestinian cities in Israel.