Israel's Security FenceInside a Palestinian border town.
In 1948 the Israeli army marched through the small Palestinian town of Wadi Fukin and forcibly evacuated the residents as part of a battle over the newly established border of Israel. More than once the townspeople tried to return to their homes, only to be driven out again. Finally, in 1953, an Israeli border patrol unit dynamited the town, destroying all but a few of the houses. By that time most of the town lived in the Dheisheh refugee camp a few miles away, near Bethlehem and beyond the new border. In Dheisheh and other camps, the residents of Wadi Fukin were among hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee their towns during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It would not be until 1972 that the residents of Wadi Fukin were allowed to return and rebuild their town. When they rebuilt, it would be the only time, as far as Palestinians can recall, that residents reconstructed a town destroyed in the 1948 war. Today, residents fear history is about to repeat itself in this town of about 1,200 people. Sometime soon, Israel's separation barrier is scheduled to reach Wadi Fukin, which sits just on the Palestinian West Bank side of the Green Line. The barrier will cut off Wadi Fukin and four nearby towns from the rest of the West Bank, which is these towns' main source for health care, jobs, and higher education. Instead of destroying people's houses and forcing them to flee, the barrier will have a slower effect, believe the residents. They predict that much of the younger generation will choose to leave and move farther into the West Bank to avoid navigating the barrier. Without younger residents to inherit the land, many fear the town will eventually disappear.