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Israel’s War of Attrition on a Christian Palestinian Town

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Around 50 people came out to demonstrate a week ago Sunday against the new Israeli outpost on the lands of Beit Jala, a Palestinian Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. The outpost is being built a few meters above the site where Israel’s High Court of Justice recently approved the razing of the Qassiyeh family’s restaurant and house.
The low number of protesters, one of them said, may indicate that the town’s people deem the protest a lost cause: They assume they can’t prevent the destruction of their gem of a landscape in the Al-Makhrour valley, virtually their only refuge from the claustrophobic urban enclave of the Bethlehem area.
Another possible reason for the low attendance is that more efforts have been invested lately in the attempts to solve the unreported crisis that followed the demolition. This has brought to the surface suspicion and hostility between Muslims and Christians, between original residents and refugees and between residents and the Palestinian Authority. It includes masked men, pepper spray, arson and talk about a “land-buyers’ mafia.” The crisis has revealed an exhausted community keeling under Israel’s looming construction plans.

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