A Swing, a Slide, and a Soccer Field ~ Targets of the Occupation

Children's Playground Wadi Fukin, Occupied Palestine Photo Credit: Dawn

Children’s Playground
Wadi Fukin ~ Occupied Palestine
Photo Credit: Dawn

What do a swing, a slide, and a soccer field have in common? It would seem an obvious question ~ these are all things which provide children a safe place to play and simply be children. But in this Palestinian village, the swing, the slide, and the soccer field all share the same fate ~ They have received stop work orders and may well be demolished should anyone have the audacity to complete these playground projects without the required permits ~ permits which are impossible for Palestinians in this village to obtain under a cruel and inhumane military occupation.

It is a Saturday afternoon and I am invited to join a Methodist delegation to the village of Wadi Fukin (Foquin/Fuqeen) ~ one of the villages our Bethlehem EAPPI team monitored in the fall of 2012 (see earlier post, Between a Rock and a Hard Place ~ A Village Surrounded). It has been three years since I was here picking olives, and I am anxious to see what changes have taken place in this small community of 1,300 people.

Map ~ Wadi Fukin Green Area Shows Loss of Land Since 1948 Credit: Mayor's Office

Map ~ Wadi Fukin
Green Area Shows Loss of Land Since 1948
Credit: Mayor’s Office

As we turn off of the main road and make our way down into the lush and fertile valley, I am immediately struck by how narrow the valley has become. The two illegal settlements on the hills above have crept downwards, confiscating more and more village land, building more and more houses, hemming in the village on both sides, and dramatically restricting the arable land. So much has changed ~ and yet so much remains the same. The mayor relays stories of settler violence and harassment ~ sewage from the settlement is regularly released into the valley, contaminating the small plots of agricultural land ~ settlers bathe in the springs, burn wheat fields, and uproot olive and fruit trees. Just four months ago, 1,300 fruit trees were lost to the bulldozers. The ongoing effects of the occupation on this small community are devastating.

Unfinished Soccer Field ~ Wadi Fukin Photo Credit: Dawn

Unfinished Soccer Field ~ Wadi Fukin
Photo Credit: Dawn

Together with village representatives we make our way to the end of the valley as the Methodist delegation has come to see the results of their fundraising efforts through Friends of Wadi Fukin to build a small soccer field for village children. Above the dirt road on the right we spot an area that has been built up and reinforced with a retaining wall to create a level playing field ~ a sign is affixed thanking the Global Ministries of the Methodist Church for their generous support. But we quickly notice that it is clearly unfinished. Rebar and wire hold together the rock retaining wall which awaits its concrete casing. The jumble of rocks on the uphill slope have not yet been transformed into spectator seats. The field is not seeded. The goal posts are missing ~ We are informed that the soccer field, along with the adjacent small playground have all received stop work orders from the Israeli government, the most recent one in July. If the village completes the project it will result in the issuance of a demolition order ~ a demolition order on the only place in the village where children can play.

Stop Work Order ~ Soccer Field Orders Typically Under Rock for Villagers to Find ~ or Not Photo Credit: Friends of Wadi Fukin

Stop Work Order ~ Soccer Field ~ Wadi Fukin
Orders Are Typically Left Under a Rock
for Villagers to Find ~ or Not
Photo Credit: Friends of Wadi Fukin

And this is the story of only one village. Stories of stop work orders and demolition orders can be multiplied by the thousands throughout Area C of the occupied West Bank (see earlier post, The A, B, Cs of Occupation). What would it be like to constantly live in the shadow of the bulldozers? And yet the Israeli government claims that it is the Palestinians who are inciting the current wave of violence. Is not a 48-year military occupation incitement? Is not restriction of movement and an oppressive permit system incitement? Is not land theft and the demolition of playgrounds, homes and livelihoods incitement? An opinion piece published yesterday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz boldly states: “Israel has created the boy ‘terrorist’… It is a moral indictment” ~ We are reminded that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter ~ Has anyone thought of ending the occupation for starters?


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7 Responses to A Swing, a Slide, and a Soccer Field ~ Targets of the Occupation

  1. Dean Reidt says:

    A difficult place to live – the very steep and high slope to the east with the settler houses almost looking straight down on this little community 24 hours a day must be hard to tolerate. The road into the village must also be frightening for them to drive as you pretty much have to drive right by the main entrance to the Beitar Illit settlement, one of the largest in the West Bank with over 45,000 people.

  2. Shelagh says:

    Reminds me of the client who continually reported his wife and others as aggressors. He could never see his own actions as anything but justified in the face of his victimization. How do you hold a mirror up to such provocation. The only way I have heard is Ghandi’s march in which many died until the British soldiers no longer could stand shooting passive unarmed men. Surely there are other ways to open the eyes of those who would delude themselves and justify such passive aggression and not so passive aggression…Blind fools..

  3. sherry ann says:

    Reblogged this on Peacing Stories and commented:
    Through this posting, my friend, Dawn, offers current insights about life amid the Israeli government’s military occupation of Palestine…

  4. Virginia Sauve says:

    Having just returned from a warm visit with my five grandchildren in which I appreciate yet again the beauty and perfection of small children in their innocent exuberance and generous love, I read Dawn’s blog today with tears of disbelief that these settlers can’t look upon the children playing and see what I see when I watch children playing, any children. I remember the song we sang in the sixties, “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” When indeed and what hope is there when children are threatened and dehumanized?

  5. sheila sullivan says:

    Thank-you for sharing these stories, as horrible as they are. How much suffering has to happen before anything changes?

  6. BETTY MARLIN says:

    Thank you again, Dawn. It is so hard to hear these realities, yet we could do nothing about it, if we did not know. This must have been a sad experience for you and the people involved. I just find it so disturbing and am discouraged with the way in which we, as a country, have responded or should I say, have failed to respond. Hopefully we will move in a different direction with our new Government leaders.

  7. Peter Fergus-Moore says:

    Dawn, We are making presentations on Palestine soon. Could we use these Wadi Fukin images with appropriate credit? Thanks.

    Peter and Joyce Fergus-Moore

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