BEIT JALA: Israel restarted construction on a controversial wall which is a separation barrier in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, near a Palestinian Christian town.
Cranes began lifting eight-metre(yard)-high blocks into place near Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem and close to Bethlehem, a photographer witnessed. This part of the wall could cut Palestinians from their olive groves.
Nicola Khamis, mayor of Beit Jala, condemned what he saw as a land grab.
“This land is for our families, our children,” he said by phone from the bridge next to the construction site.
After a nine-year legal battle, Israel’s high court ruled in July 2015 the wall was legitimate, making only small adjustments.
“Without this land all the Christians will leave this country,” Khamis said. “It is impossible to build in Beit Jala. We want to widen Beit Jala.” Israel began building the barrier of walls and fences inside the occupied West Bank in 2002 at the height of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising), saying it was crucial for security.
The Palestinians say that it is a action of grabbing land aimed at stealing part of their future state and call it the “apartheid wall”.
“It is consistent with the Israeli government’s policy of consolidating apartheid in the West Bank,” Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said of Thursday’s construction. “It destroys the prospects for Bethlehem to grow”.