RAMALLAH, May 10 (JMCC) - Israel is gradually extending its Wall into the southern occupied West Bank, where it threatens to cut off the village of Battir from an ancient and unique irrigation system, reports the
Giovanni Sontana, an anthropologist with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) says that to build the barrier here would destroy a traditional way of life.
There are few, if any, places left in the immediate region where such a traditional method of agriculture remains, not only intact, but as a functioning part of the village, he said as we walked through olive groves that have not changed for as long as anyone can remember.
Keeping the village of Battir and its lands intact would require Israel to do something it has not done thus far - to build part of the barrier on its own territory.
Declining requests for an interview, the Israeli defence ministry said in a statement that the routing of the barrier is based purely on security considerations and that potential damage to the area would be minimised.
Villagers, the statement said, would have access to their lands through special gates (operated by Israeli security personnel) in the wall or fence.
The residents of Battir certainly do not feel lucky or blessed, as the future of the village hangs in the balance. Many fear that a way of life that has prevailed here pretty much without change for hundreds of years is about to be swept away.
Thirty percent of the village lands lie on the other side of the green line that marks Israel's 1948 borders. Israel began building the Wall in 2003 and it is comprised of a series of high concrete walls, fencing, guard towers and gates.