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Demolition warnings to Walaja residents

May 12, 2011 3:06 P.M. (Updated: May 13, 2011 4:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Demolition orders were handed out to seven families in Al-Walaja, the village closest to the ongoing construction of Israel's separation wall.

Village council member Adel Al-Atrash told Ma'an that the orders were handed out on Wednesday night, and residents were given 72 hours to appeal to the courts to stop the demolition process.

A court process has started, Al-Atrash said, noting that attorney Ghiyath Nasser was taken on by the village to defend the rights of Ahmad Khalifeh, Muhammad Khalifeh, Yousef Shihadeh, Mahmoud Radwan, Kamal Radwan, Adel Abu Srour and Atallah Abu Riziq to keep their homes and properties.

The orders were handed out days before a planned demonstration in the village marking Nakba Day. On Saturday, volunteers were called to participate in a work day to support Walaja farmers whose land had been declared a no-go zone due to the separation wall construction.

A spokesperson for Israel's Civil Administration, which delivers the orders, could not be reached for comment by phone.

Residents of the southern West Bank village are overwhelmingly refugees, driven from the historic Al-Walaja, located just across the valley from the current population center. The village was, in 1948, the second largest land area after Jerusalem, but was cut down to one third the size when Israel declared statehood that year.

Now a border village, Al-Walaja is edged on its eastern flank by an expanding bloc of settlements, and being shrunk once again by the path of Israel's separation wall, which near the village cuts between two and three kilometers beyond the pre-1967 border.
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