Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Christianity and the Middle East: "Bulldozed on the West Bank; Self-Help Project Is Leveled"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Christianity and the Middle East: "Bulldozed on the West Bank; Self-Help Project Is Leveled"

Article excerpt

Christianity and the Middle East: "Bulldozed on the West Bank; Self-Help Project Is Leveled"

By Rev. L. Humphrey Walz

The headline above was the title of a three-column, full-page editorial in the Oct. 11 Christian Century by James Wall. It read in part:

"Thirteen Palestinian turkey farmers and their families in the village of Hizma may be among the final victims of the 28-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank. A farm cooperative funded in part by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was destroyed by Israel Defense Forces on Sept. 12, just two weeks before Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres reached an agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories. Two buildings housing 500 turkeys were bulldozed by IDF troops led by Major Moshe Muther, who told the director of the farm project, Mohammad Sbeih, an agricultural engineer, to `get the turkeys out in five minutes.'

"`All that is left of the Hizma project,' according to Robert Hannum, a United Methodist church worker in Jerusalem, `is a pile of twisted metal roofing, broken concrete wall, and the floor.' Of the 500 turkeys, 100 have been sold, and the remaining 400 are being kept in a villager's basement...

"The total cost of the self-help project was $43,500. Diaconia, a Swedish organization, originated the project as a chicken cooperative. Profits from the sale of the chickens, plus the Presbyterians' support, along with $300 from each of the 13 families, helped establish the buildings, dig a cistern, and purchase the turkeys...

"Church workers in the area speculate that the IDF major who carried out the bulldozing was responding to pressure from three Jewish settlements surrounding the village...

"The juxtaposition of Jewish settlements--most of which resemble U.S. suburban housing developments with schools, stores and swimming pools--and old Palestinian villages and farms is expected to be a constant source of friction between the new Palestinian government and Israel. Conflict over the use of water, for example, already has emerged as a central point of contention. The settlements have dug modern wells that tap into aquifers that take water away from local farm wells, many of which are 50 to 100 years old. New roads that link Jewish settlements to one another and to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are designed to separate the two populations, but their construction has come at the cost of valuable Palestinian farm land. Indeed, it's possible that the Israelis decided the land on which the Hizma turkey project is located is `needed' for road construction. …

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