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Palestinian children write to UN pleading for return of soccer ball

Jan. 4, 2014 9:54 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2014 10:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of children in a Palestinian village south of Tulkarem have taken the unprecedented step of writing a letter directly to the United Nations in a bold attempt to win back their soccer ball from Israeli occupation authorities.

The children in the village of Kafr Sur sent the letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon via social media, asking him to intervene after the ball fell into lands confiscated by Israeli authorities to build the separation barrier through their village.

The campaign began after a local youth named Amir was playing soccer in the village and kicked the ball too far, hitting it into an area in the village under Israeli military control and beyond barbed wire, according to municipality head Imad Zibda.

The group of children spoke to Ma'an on Saturday, explaining that the Israeli occupation had impinged on their rights by not allowing them to retrieve their ball, which had disappeared behind the barbed wire of the separation barrier.

They stressed that they have the right to play in their own lands without any restrictions. They expressed their fear that the ball would never be returned because it had fallen on the other side of the barbed wire.

They feared that all of the lands that had been confiscated from the village would suffer a similar fate, they added.

Municipality head Zibda said that Israel tells the world that the wall is necessary to protect its security, but that the reality is that Israel aims to confiscate increasing amounts of Palestinian in order to expand the areas available to Jewish settlements.

The Israeli settlement of Salit sits directly to the west of the village on land confiscated from locals.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall.

When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and "tantamount to annexation."

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

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