The village of Al Walaja does not appear on the itineraries of tourist groups or pilgrims who visit the Holy Land. But for those who do make the effort to visit the village, they will be struck by the beauty of the landscape, the warmth of the welcome, and the visible, devastating impact of the occupation. All around the village, destroyed homes tell a story of lives disrupted and families uprooted. Homes with roofs ripped off and walls torn down reveal the intimate details of domestic life - fragments of wallpaper, a broken basin, an overturned child’s pram left in a hurry.
Holy Land Trust have made their latest Virtual Tour video in Al Walaja working with a local tour guide Noor A’Wad. Noor outlines the seven decades of struggle this village has faced, beginning with the Nakhba in 1948 when evicted residents began to live as refugees on their farmland as 74% of the land became part of Israel. After the Oslo agreements in the 90s, residents were left in control of just 2.6% of the land and the erection of the separation wall and checkpoints gobbled up yet more land. Now the barrier surrounds the village on three sides and homes built on the contested land are bulldozed on a weekly basis.
As part of its commitment to non-violent resistance, Holy Land Trust has been running a home rebuild program in Al Walaja, working with their partner in the UK, Amos Trust. This program has made a huge difference to so many families in the village. We are planning our 2022 project now – come and join us. Find out more at www.holylandtrust.org
During this time of Pandemic, we have managed to raise funds to buy much needed medical equipment and food parcels for those most impacted by the economic hardship that has been caused. Bethlehem is largely dependent on tourism and our fragile economy has been hit hard. At Holy Land Trust we relied on income from our travel program to enable us to do the vital work of healing and transformation. Without this income, our organization is under threat. Please consider making a donation that will help us keep going until we can welcome visitors again.
Elias Deis - Executive Director
Holy Land Trust’s E.D., Elias Deis has worked for over a decade at Holy Land Trust. He was formally the Travel & Encounter Program Director and serves on the Beit Sahour City Council.