Tear Down the wall says Roger Waters, former band member of Pink Floyd. Mr Waters visited Israel in 2006 and played a single concert to a sold out makeshift open air stadium of 50,000 (paying) Israeli Jews. He also found time on his whirlwind visit to hop over the fence (or over the big bad wall, as he would put it) and spray paint some graffiti on the Palestinian side.
Three years later, at 65, Roger Waters is ambivalent about his having visited Israel (and taking in millions of dollars spent by adoring Israeli fans). Mr Waters thinks that the wall is actually a colonialist action by Israel. Never mind that this wall was put up to help prevent terror attacks and bus bombings of innocent civilians. Never mind that the wall has essentially stopped terrorism from the areas in where it was erected. Never mind that the US has a longer and bigger wall with it’s Mexican border in several high-trafficked areas (and Mexico is not at war with the USA!).
What would I say to him if I had the chance to sit him down and explain the whole thing. Would I tell him how the wall has given Jewish families in Neve Yaakov and Gush Etziyon, to name a few, the chance to leave for work in the morning without wondering if their kids would be burying them that night? How much Jewish blood can be spilled for Mr. Waters to acquiesce to Israel attempting to prevent further savage acts. How many children living in the southern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo should be forsaken?
These questions may remain unsolved to many, but to me it’s pretty clear. As Israel’s government spokesman, Mark Regev put it ever so bluntly, “We don’t need no education about suicide bombers coming into Israel and murdering innocent people, and how the security barrier has prevented that by more than 95 percent”.
Husan ???? is a sprawling West Bank town on the southern edge of Jerusalem, straddled by Gilo, the tunnels road, and Beitar Ilit. Most of the residents work in neighboring Beit Lechem, or tend to their fields or herds. Commerce is practically non-existent in Husan.
In good times, Husan has also been a prime source of day labor for Israeli contractors in Jerusalem and as far as Bet Shemesh. In bad times, such as in the recent second Intifada, Husan acted as a springboard for hostilities. The road that connects Beitar Illit with the tunnels road that heads north to Jerusalem and south to Gush Etzion also shares a two kilometer southern border with Husan. Beitar residents would often be stoned, or worse, by projectiles thrown from the Husan residents from their higher vantage point.
The Israeli army clamped down on Husan with several measures to alleviate the stress and risk of injury or death of Beitar residents. A huge link fence was erected on most of the southern border of Husan that would effectively eliminate terrorist attacks from the high points. Next, the army declared the tunnels road and the Beitar access road to be inaccessible to Husan residents. Husan residents were now trapped in their village except for taking a long walk across the tunnels road to Beit Jara or Beit Lechem, and a loophole that allowed transit vans from employers in other cities to pick up Husan residents for work. However, Husan is several kilometers long in its own right. As a result, an odd daily ritual could be seen, as Husan residents either walked or were transported from their homes to the edge of the city, where they would walk across the army baracades, and then step into other vans that would take them to their work or shopping in nearby cities.
Here’s some images of this daily spectacle and of the environs: