One of the last green spaces in Bethlehem is being destroyed to make way for the Partition Wall. Yesterday morning, (Tuesday 27 June) Israeli bulldozers guarded with armed personnel started cutting and uprooting olive trees in the Cremisan area near Bethlehem, in preparation for the construction of the segregation Wall. Cremisan has the only remaining forest in the city, and the most fertilized agricultural land, which is the main source of income to many farmers in the city. Cremisan area is also one of the very few recreational sites near Bethlehem, where many citizens used to go during weekends or holidays. In addition, the area hosts the only winery in Palestine, two monasteries and a kindergarten. Constructing the Segregation Wall in this area will separate the city and its citizens from its northern part, slaying all our fertile agricultural lands, depriving the right of our citizens to use their lands and deprives any possibility for the city from future expansion. The Segregation Wall will severely affect us directly or indirectly and cause destruction to our private and public properties. The Wall will swallow the left open spaces and strangulate the built-up areas where we live. The Wall is a collective punishment and a human right violation, Israel through its construction opposes the peace objectives, the International laws and UN resolutions and the will of the International community to give peace and stability in the region. Therefore, we ask the peace loving people of the world, and the International community to immediately intervene and stop these Israeli activities in Beit Jala city, that has suffered a lot from land confiscation, leaving the city with only 4500 dunums from original 14500 dunums. This is an urgent appeal from the Municipal Council of Beit Jala on behalf of the citizens of Beit Jala and its organizations to our friends and peace loving people around the world, asking them to help us to protest the continuous illegal act facing the Palestinian Community in Beit Jala caused by the construction of the Segregation Wall. Source: MCBJ Note: In February this year I visited this area. It is a beautiful landscape that seemed little changed since Biblical times, with olive trees and grape vines growing on ancient hillside terraces. Within a few weeks it could be gone. - Jo Siedlecka
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