Commemoration of Rebuilt Home in al-Walaja
PSP was honored to be invited to the commemoration of the newly rebuilt home of the Salem family in Al-Walaja. Activists from Holy Land Trust, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions and others joined the Salem family to rebuild their home for the 3rd time in two years.
Al-Walaja is a village of less than 1,000 refugees near Betlehem. The residents were first displaced in 1948 when half of their village was taken over by Israel. Over the years they have been in constant danger of further displacement, especially in 1967 when another part of their village was annexed as part of ‘East Jerusalem’ in 1967, and again in the 1980′s when homes were demolished for not having correct permits.
Since 2004 Al-Walaja faces a new crisis: the construction of a new settlement and the Annexation Barrier. The planned settlement, Givat Yael, will surround the small village on three sides and along with another settlement on the fourth side and the Annexation Barrier, the tiny village will be completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank and their agricultural land.
The path of the Annexation Barrier is planned to come within 10 meters of the Salem family’s house and several homes in the area have been demolished or are currently under demolition orders. The Israeli Occupation Forces first demolished the Salem family’s home on February 2, 2006. It was then rebuilt but demolished again on December 31, 2006. For the third time the family, along with international and Israeli activists, rebuilt their modest home, in defiance of the Israeli government’s attempt to force them from their land.
During the commemoration ceremony Mr. Salem said that there were no words to express his thanks to the volunteers who came to help rebuild his home. He said that it was not just his family’s home now but a home to all of the people who built it. After speeches by representatives of EAPPI, ICAHD and Holy Land Trust and Mr. Salem, volunteers joined the family in planting three olive trees near the home.
The organizations involved, as well as PSP, are committed to continue their support for this and other families in Al-Walaja, and will rebuild the house as many times as needed.