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'The wall ruined my life, separated my family'

June 24, 2010 12:52 P.M. (Updated: June 25, 2010 5:23 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The demolition of a Palestinian man's home on Monday was his final lost battle in a string of defeats going back to the 1990s, the Beit Jala man told Ma'an.

In 1992, Israel confiscated several hundred dunums of land belonging to the family, where the tunnels system was created to connect the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo and Bettar Illit with Jerusalem. What was left undeveloped on the far side of the tunnel road was confiscated, and the farming family was left to find a different source of livelihood.

In 1997, Anton married a Jerusalemite woman, and the two decided to settle in the holy city, where Anton could work. After some effort, they successfully registered him as a Jerusalem resident, and they had two daughters who were also accorded Jerusalem residency status. Anton was able to find work and the family started anew.

In 2004, however, as the final route of the separation wall was set, his family was handed a home demolition targeting ancestral buildings in Wadi Ahmed, on the lands that remained in their possession.

Worried that more of his family land and property would be confiscated, Anton moved back to the home, in an attempt to protect the area from further Israeli encroachment. He said he was worried that the land would be declared abandoned, and his family would lose all that remained.

On the property were two homes, one ancient and one modern. The older building was said to have been several hundred years old, and was used by his family as a Qasr, or an agricultural building where relatives would stay during the harvest season. The building traditionally stored tools and food for the family for the summer and early fall.

"They began asking me questions in 2006," Anton told Ma'an, "they found that my 'center of life' was no longer Jerusalem so in 2007 they stripped me of my Jerusalem residency card."

Without the card, Anton, like all other West Bank Palestinians was no longer permitted to enter Jerusalem. "I could no longer see my wife, my daughters," he said.

Anton remained in his Beit Jala home, and his wife and daughter would visit him on weekends and evenings when they could. Then on 25 May 2010, Anton was handed an demolition order for his home and the agricultural building nearby.

The demolitions were carried out on Monday, as the path of Israel's separation wall continued to wind southward.
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