RAMALLAH, Feb 23 (JMCC) - A Palestinian house in the village of Beit Ijza
has over the years been surrounded by an Israeli settlement
. Now the family that lives there is even fenced off from both the settlement and the nearby Palestinian village, reports the
The family's 10 members, four of them children, can only reach the house via a 40-yard (meter) passageway connecting them to the Arab village of Beit Ijza farther down a hill. The passageway passes over a road used by Israeli army jeeps and is lined on both sides with a 24-foot-high (8-meter) heavy-duty metal fence.
The same fence rings the simple one-story house, separating it from the surrounding settlement houses. Some of those dwellings are so close that the family can hear the insults shouted by a nearby Jewish neighbor.
While al-Ghirayibs' situation is unusual, Palestinians say it reflects the pressures put on their communities by Israel's more than 120 West Bank settlements.
The Palestinian Authority has refused to hold peace talks with Israel while settlement construction continues. The latest round of talks collapsed over the settlement issue in September, only three weeks after starting.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.