Separation wall confines towns, lives

In English, hizma means a bundle or beam of rays. That’s ironic for two families who live in the city of Hizma, Palestine. Their homes are completely surrounded by Israel’s separation wall, and though they long to see the hizma, it can only be seen for so long before the sun is overshadowed by the 30-feet of concrete.

After Israel’s separation wall and a surrounding settlement were built, Hizma lost a great portion of its lands, approximately 23,960 acres.

And though the International Court of Justice denounced the legitimacy of the wall in 2004, Israel continues to build it and consume more Palestinians’ land.

I went to Hizma yesterday, which is on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, and met with the families who live in what could resemble a virtual prison.

Getting inside the cell was an ordeal. I had to go through a hole that was cut in the barbed wire fence that surrounds a portion of the two homes. The only entrance – a gate that is opened and closed at the behest of the Israelis – will soon be filled in with more concrete.

For years the occupants, Ahmed and Hend Khatib (Abu and Oum Aziz), have lived in the same home and on the same piece of land, and though the wall took almost 250 acres from them, they refuse to leave – even if it means being jailed or facing constant harassment from the Israeli Defense Forces.

After two cups of tea and a cup of coffee, I walked around the rubble and rocks of the jailed portion of Hizma. Abu and Oum Aziz’s children and grandchildren also live in the cell, and they spoke of their grandchildrens’ travails in dealing with the situation. It takes the children an hour to get to school, which is located on the other side of Hizma.

I asked Adel, one of the many grandchildren of Abu and Oum Aziz, how he felt about the extra distance he is forced to walk when going to school, and he told me how he never understood the concept of time until the wall was built. The younger grandchildren however see the wall as a really big coloring book, one of the girls said that the wall is too gray and since it’s in their yard, they might as well do something to make it look pretty.

So the wall’s dull grey pallor is now covered with drawings and political statements, and has become a reminder to the surreal complexities in which the Khatib family live.

But in the end, Palestinians continue to live, continue to laugh, continue to hope and, though it is a bittersweet existence, to the Khatib family, Hizma is their home of comfort.

Writing from Ramallah in the Palestinian territories, Hammad, a communication junior, can be reached via [email protected]

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