BIR NABALA / TEL AL 'ADASSA | JERUSALEM
Bir Nabala / Tel al ‘Adassa is a small Bedouin community whose members have lived Between Ramallah and Jerusalem for decades, after being displaced from what became Israel and then within the West Bank.
Since the mid-1990s, they have been settled just inside the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem.
Notwithstanding the proximity, since they hold West Bank ID cards, Israel considers their presence within the Jerusalem municipal boundary illegal, unless they obtain special permits.
By 2007, the Israeli authorities completed the construction of a Barrier in the area, with the stated aim of preventing attacks on Israelis. This has left the community on the “Jerusalem” side of the Barrier, physically separated from their service centre of Bir Nabala and the rest of the West Bank, and unable to legally enter East Jerusalem.
We met Amneh, then a 45-year-old member of the community, in 2013. ❝After the Barrier was completed in 2007,❞ she told us, ❝our living conditions deteriorated and our life turned upside down. We were isolated, stuck between two places, Ramallah and Jerusalem, able to go to neither.
❝The separation was difficult on everyone. All the while, we suffered harassment and intimidation from the Israeli authorities to leave our community.❞
On top of the access restrictions, the community has also faced multiple incident of demolitions, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits.
By 2013, all families left and went to live on the ‘West Bank’ side.
The community dispersed into two separate locations. Amneh described the events that led to their departure:
❝We had demolition orders for our structures and fines as well. After finally demolishing all of our structures, the Israelis threatened that if we do not move to the other side of the Barrier in the West Bank, we will be fined huge amounts of money and risk arrest.
❝To be honest, we just are not able to pay any fines. We have no money. I have two sons in the university and I still have not been able to cover their tuition. Any money I have, should go to them first, and not to the Israeli authorities.
❝So we decided to move, in hopes that we will find better living conditions and no longer be faced with the Israeli authorities’ intimidation.❞
❝Is this our destiny?❞ she asked. ❝Is it my fate to live in uncertainty, without even a hope of living in dignity and with respect?❞