Loss of Land: The Case of Wadi Foquin

Located southwest of Bethlehem, the village of Wadi Foquin was reestablished in 1972 after being deserted for 18 years. During the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948, Israeli soldiers ordered the evacuation of Palestinians from Wadi Foquin. The village was completely demolished in 1954 and remained vacant until Israel permitted the displaced villagers to return in 1972. Since then, the growing Israeli settlement of Betar Illit has competed with Wadi Foquin for resources. Cut off by checkpoints and settler-only roads, Wadi Foquin’s land has steadily shrunk since 1987. It is estimated that since 1948 the village has lost 75 percent of its farmland. Untreated wastewater from the nearby settlement discharges directly into the villagers’ farmland, creating a public health and environmental nightmare. Currently Betar Illit is home to 50,000 Israeli settlers, and development plans indicate that the settlement is anticipated to grow to 100,000 by 2020. This expansion would further reduce the land available for development in Wadi Foquin. Since 2009, a coalition of United Methodist Churches in the San Francisco Bay area formed “Friends of Wadi Foquin” to promote community development and raise awareness of the challenges the village faces.

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