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.
Friends of Wadi Foquin
“The United Methodist Church, through its General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), supports a community development project in the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin. The church’s involvement began in 2009 with modest fundraising for beehives to help offset damage inflicted on agricultural life by the nearby Israeli settlement of Betar Illit. The project was initiated by Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, Calif., with help from Janet Lahr Lewis, then UMC Liaison to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Trinity United Methodist Church, Berkeley Methodist United Church, other San Francisco Bay Area churches, and community members have joined the partnership since then, and a new project has been added every year. Operating under the name Friends of Wadi Foquin, the organization has worked to provide financial assistance for projects supporting the economic survival of the village, made annual visits to Wadi Foquin, and—as the village has come under increasing threat from settlement expansion—advocated for its survival on Capitol Hill. The Cal-Nevada Israel-Palestine Task Force of the United Methodist Church has also provided support for the partnership.” Learn More