Al-Walajeh

Al-Walajeh is located 8.5 km to the southwest of Jerusalem, and about 4 kilometers to the northwest of Bethlehem. The village rises 750 meters above sea level, and the population reached 1644 people in 2005. Part of the village lands are in pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the inhabitants fled to the West Bank in 1948 and many of the refugees later on established the new village of Al-Walajeh on land in the West Bank that belonged to the old village.

In 1967, after the Israeli occupation of the remainder of mandate Palestine, the Israeli government unilaterally expanded the Jerusalem municipal boundaries from 6.5 km² to 71 km² to include lands from the nearby villages. These lands were then annexed to the state of Israel. Part of Al Walajeh village, in particular the Ein Juwaiza neighborhood which covers an area of 2.095 km2, was included within this annexed land. In 1985 the Jerusalem municipality started issuing demolition orders to houses constructed in the Ain Juwaiza neighborhood under the pretext that they did not have a building license and violated the Israeli building codes.

According to the results of the PCBS Population, Housing and Establishment Census-

2007, the illiteracy rate among Al Walaja population is about 5.1 percent, of whom

78.3 percent are females. Of the literate population, 10.2 percent can read and write,

22.3 percent had elementary education, 31.7 percent had preparatory education, 17.7

percent had secondary education, and 12.2 percent completed higher education.

Al Walaja lacks health facilities, as there is no governmental or private health center.

In emergency cases, residents of Al Walaja use Bethlehem hospitals and health

Centers.

The results of the ARIJ field survey for the distribution of labor by economic activity in Al

Walaja are the following:

 

  • Israeli Labor Market (47%)
  • Services and Government or Private Employees Sector (30%)
  • Agriculture Sector (20%)
  • Trade Sector (2%)
  • Industry (1%)

 

As a result of the Israeli occupation and restrictions, the economic status of the

population has severely declined, as many citizens have lost their jobs and have

become unemployed, thus forcing many to return to agriculture activities and

cultivating their lands, as a last resort for obtaining a minimum income.

The unemployment rate in Al Walaja has reached about 40 percent.

The Al Walaja lands, 4215 dunums, (97.4%), were classified as area C, an area that is under full control of the Israeli government. Since Israeli has control of this land, Palestinians are prevented from construction or benefiting from this land in any way possible, unless they get permission, which is extremely difficult, from the Israeli civilian administration in Bethlehem. The Segregation Wall will extend for 6.3km on Al Walaja lands; thus isolating and confiscating 4209 dunums of the village territory (97 percent of the total area of the village). The majority of this land is agricultural land, forests, and open areas.

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