***image3***Occupation forces have nearly completed a fortified checkpoint to the northwest of Beit Iksa. This will ensure the loss of more land, which will be used to expand nearby settlements, as well as the severing of the village from the greater community. Residents, who rely on heath and educational services outside the village, will find access more restricted.
The residents of Beit Iksa are already surrounded on all sides. The Green Line lies to the south while the Ramot and Har Smuel settlements respectively block the east and north. To the west, the Wall cuts off villagers from the once close-by village of Beit Surik.
The village will be further sealed by the construction of a new fortified checkpoint to the northwest. Formerly, the way was blocked by a dirt mound and gate. Now, however, gates, a watchtower, and rooms are being completed on 20 â 30 dunums of village land. Jeeps and soldiers are already stationed there on a regular basis, harassing residents and checking permits.
Occupation representatives claim that much of the village land belongs to Israeli settlers, meaning that the isolated areas will be used for the expansion of nearby settlements. Before 1948 Beit Iksa possessed 14,500 dunums. 1,500 were lost during the Nakba, and 2,000 more were stolen after 1967; 1,500 for Ramot and 500 for Har Smuel. Of the remaining area, Occupation forces permit building on only 900 dunums, restricting prospects for natural growth.
Not only will the village permanently lose more land, but will be even further cut off from the greater community. There are 30 â 40 university students who have no choice but to daily pass through the checkpoint; the same goes for the many who work outside the village.
As a small village, Beit Iksa also relies on larger urban centers for basic services. A key example is health; within the village there is only a small clinic staffed by a single doctor. Any serious medical condition or emergency will require a trip through the checkpoint, which may be closed for a variety of reasons by soldiers or commanders.
In the end, the piece-meal isolation of the village is a small part of the larger campaign of ethnic cleansing taking place around Jerusalem, wherein the expanding ring of settlements is swallowing up the land of Beit Iksa and other Palestinian villages.