A group of West Bank Palestinians, almost encircled in their homes by Israel’s separation wall, lit their Christmas tree to share joy with Bethlehem residents and attempt to briefly forget about the suffering from their quasi-imprisonment.
The case of Metri Ghoneim, also known as Abu Michel, stands as an example of the damage inflicted upon Palestinians by the separation wall constructed by Israeli occupation in the West Bank.
Abu Michel, who is in his 60s, lives with his family in a two-storey house with a garden in the Christian town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem governorate, 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
As construction resumes, Abu Michel’s house will be surrounded by the separation wall from four sides, leaving him almost no space to enter and exit his house.
In an attempt to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Bethlehem, Mustafa al-Barghouti, co-founder and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, headed a delegation of 70 French and Scottish supporters of the Palestinian cause which visited the houses surrounded by the separation wall.
Barghouti and the delegation lit a Christmas tree in Abu Michel’s garden in solidarity with him and other people whose lives are threatened by the wall.
“Abu Michel and his family live in a prison and not a house,” he told AlArabiya.net. “This is a reflection of the reality of Palestinian towns that has become prisoners since the construction of the barrier.”
Barghouti added that Bethlehem and the towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour have become totally isolated from their Palestinian environs, especially Jerusalem.
“There are 23 settlements that surround those towns. More than 87,000 settlers live there at the expense of Palestinians and their freedom and future.”
However, Barghouti expressed his admiration for the Palestinians’ will to celebrate Christmas despite the harsh circumstances under which they live.
“Despite occupation and racism, our people still insist on celebration. This applies to Christians as well as Muslims who also took part in the celebrations.”
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)