Virtual road trip
In this episode I am taking you on a road trip. Join me on my way to pick up my kids from school.
We are driving from our home in Beit Safafa to the school in Beit Jalla. Beit Safafa has become a suburb of Jerusalem but is originally a Palestinian village, organically grown and in its essence agricultural. The part of the village where we live is on the eastern side of the Green Line, the demarcation line, it did not belong to the State of Israel when it was created in 1948. It was, however, occupied by Israel in 1967.
Green line and segregation wall
The segregation wall that Israel built and is still building, does not follow this demarcation line, but is constructed more to the east, on the edge of Bethlehem.
This means that Beit Safafa is now situated between the Green Line and the Wall. The school of our children is in Beit Jalla, close to Bethlehem. To reach the school we have to cross the checkpoint every day.
On the way we pass by the new high way that was built on lands of the local residents of Beit Safafa. It used to be a beautiful green valley full of fruit trees. The highway cuts the village into two, physically separating families.
Settlement and bypass road
A lot of the land of Beit Safafa was already confiscated in the 1970s for the construction of an Israeli settlement called Gilo and the roads that connect the settlement with Jerusalem and with other settlements in the Westbank.We pass by the settlement and drive over the main bypass roads that was built to ‘bypass’ Bethlehem and connect to the Gush Etzion settlement block on the way to Hebron. We drive through the tunnels and over the bridge that were constructed on lands of the residents of Beit Jalla who do not have access to this road because of the checkpoint right after the second tunnel that does not allow passage to Palestinians from the Westbank.
Just after the checkpoint is the road towards the school, but there is no exit from this side of the road 60 so we drive until we reach a roundabout where we can turn back towards the checkpoint from where a small road leads up to the area where the school is.
Area C under Israeli military control
This is area is under full Israeli military control. This means that the Palestinian authority does not have any authority here. They can not organize to clean up the area and provide services. Palestinian police is not allowed to operate here, making the area into a law-less heaven for drug dealers and other illegal activities.
The school of the children is right here on Church property, by the Lutheran Evangelical church.
Yalla, let’s go on a virtual tour and explore this complicated reality.
If you want to read a bit more about the checkpoints, the wall and the settlements, here are some suggested links. You can find a lot more to read on the internet as well as videos on youtube. Just search for it! It’s all out there.