The Apartheid Wall is threatening to make Hussein Diab a refugee for the second time in his life. In 1948 his family was forced to flee their home and become refugees, ending up in the village of Al Burj in the southwestern tip of the Hebron district. Today, this village of 2,500 Palestinians is being devastated by the Wall as the Occupation enforces its overall project of expulsion of the Palestinian people. Hussein speaks openly about how the Wall has stolen his land and seeks to turn his village into a prison.



The Apartheid Wall is threatening to make Hussein Diab a refugee for the second time in his life. In 1948 his family was forced to flee their home and become refugees, ending up in the village of Al Burj in the southwestern tip of the Hebron district. Today, this village of 2,500 Palestinians is being devastated by the Wall as the Occupation enforces its overall project of expulsion of the Palestinian people.



On September 5th 2004, Occupation Forces entered the village and began to destroy and uproot land for the footprint of the Apartheid Wall. The village covers an area of 10,000 dunums - 2,000 of which are being isolated behind the Wall and a further 200 dunums destroyed completely. Now the Wall in this area is nearing completion and Hussein has been one of the villagers hardest hit by its construction.



“My wife and I live with our six sons and four daughters,” he explains. “I have 13 children altogether but the others are married and have moved away. The youngest is eight, the oldest is thirty. We have a small house, but we had land and a good life. Now they have built this Wall and soon there will be electricity flowing through its wires - all just a hundred metres from our home.



“In October last year, the Occupation began bulldozing the land in the Khalet Hazar area of the village. I went to my land to find out what was going on, but the Occupation Forces chased me away. They set off tear gas canisters and kept on shouting “confiscation orders.” To this day I have never received official confiscation orders for any of my land. Now every time I approach it I risk getting shot.”



Hussein was powerless as Occupation bulldozers razed his 50 dunums of land in Khalet Hazar, as well as a further 20 dunums of his land to the east of the village. “That is all I owned,” he says bitterly, “and it is all lost to the Wall. I have nothing left – 70 dunums are gone and encircled with barbed wire, and I am not even allowed to look at it.



“My lands were very fertile. I planted wheat and barley one year, and then vegetables the next. I grew okra, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes and I produced enough to keep the whole of Al Burj and even the nearby village of Dhahriya fed for two or three days. I used to sell so many vegetables… now I have to buy them.”



The land did not just support Hussein and his family. It also fed his sheep. “I had over 100 sheep but now the fields and the water well are behind the Wall and they cannot graze or drink. So now I have to buy their food, which costs me about 700 dinars (about 1,000 dollars) a month. With no fields and no vegetables to sell I cannot afford such a huge sum and so I have to sell my sheep.”



Sheep and other animals have become a luxury that most villagers can ill afford, as natural resources such as water have become scarce since the Wall was built. The village well was built during the British Mandate period and meets the household needs of the entire village. It also provides enough water for livestock and the irrigation of farmland. Until recently that is. Now the well is isolated behind the Wall, inaccessible for many villagers and lack of water has become one of the most serious problems facing the village. “Now we must buy in water from outside,” says Hussein. “60 to 70 cans of water costs us about 200 shekels (about 45 dollars) and lasts us only a week. This barely meets the needs of my family, let alone the sheep.” Now, most of the farmers in Al Burj are forced into selling their sheep.



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Like many West Bank villages, Al Burj has suffered from the gradual theft of their lands and resources ever since the realization of the Zionist Occupation in 1948. That year, the village’s inhabitants were expelled by the Occupation to its eastern parts, forcing them out of the western part of the village and confiscating its lands. The 1967 “Green Line” runs through the centre of the village. The theft of the village’s lands in the 1948 Nakba is now being repeated by the Apartheid Wall. “These experiences are not new ones – to me or many of my neighbours,” Hussein notes. “As a child, my family was forced from our home in 1948. We ended up in Al Burj as refugees. At the time, I was only young and I did not feel the full extent of my loss. This time the pain and suffering is much worse.



“The Wall and the Occupation is taking every part of our life away from us, not just my land. In the mountains nearby, seasonal plants such as thyme and cardamom grow on the slopes and my children pick them and sell them in the market. Now the Wall separates our village from the mountains. Our village is no more than a prison. All the land is gone – all that is left of the village is the houses.”



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