Every morning, even before sunrise, Ahmed Abdul-Rahim, 45, a villager from Budrus, west of the city of Ramallah, used to work in his olive grooves at the western outskirts of his village. Lately, Abdul-Rahim was forced to become an active fighter against the separation fence. Running between his village and his olive grooves, the barrier deprived him from the little land he is left with after loosing most of his land during the 1948 war.
Instead of taking care of his beloved Olive trees, each morning Abdul-Rahim joins hundreds of his fellow villagers in peaceful demonstrations against the separation fence, which is currently being built west of his village.
Villagers of Budrus are engaged in a daily struggle trying with their bodies to prevent bulldozers from uprooting their trees and build a 40 meters wide barrier that will take away most of the village land, the only source of living for most of them.
Abdul-Rahim, an eternal optimist, said that even after army bulldozers uprooted 50 of his olive trees, villagers, assisted by international peace activists managed to force a freeze on the construction of the separation fence.
Abdul-Rahim described the 8 long and hard days in which villagers and International Solidarity Movement activists blocked the construction of the fence and the uprooting of the trees, as being hard and bloody. ‘Even when we demonstrated peacefully, the army was violent. 40 people were wounded, three were arrested, and our village was placed under a tight curfew’. He said.
The villagers of Budrus, a little village with less than two thousand residents, are proud of their ability to block the construction even after its initial stage, which started near the nearby village of Rantis and passed through the villages of Shqba, Almidia, and Qibeia, was completed.
Abdul-Basit Abdul-Satar, 50, another villager from Budrus, said that if the barrier is not blocked, life in Budrus will freeze. ‘it will take away Khalat AlNasara, the village most fertile land; we will loose our grazing fields; workers from the village would not be able to arrive at their working places; in reality, Budrus will not stay as a village it would be turned into a refugee camp’
Villager Ahmed Hassan, 45, said that despite the persistence of his 80-years-old father to accompany him to their olive grooves, he was every time coming with an excuse to keep his father at home, fearing that the seen of the uprooted olive trees, that the father himself planted in the year 1952, would be very shocking and can endanger his life.
Mohammed Ilian, the head of the village council believes that even when the freeze of the construction came as a result of the efforts of villagers and international peace activists; it was only temporary, fearing that Israel would resume the work after the international interest in the ‘wall’ issue fades away.
Ilian said that villagers are most fearful of their village being turned into ‘an isolated Ghetto’ surrounded with a fence and iron gates. He added that Budrus would lose 45% of its land to the ‘monstrous wall’
Ilian said that residents of Budrus, together with International peace activists, formed a popular committee to resist the ‘Separation Wall’ and invited neighboring villages to join them. He added that the formed committee worked day and night to organize protests and demonstrations at the construction site.
When asked why the move against the construction of the barrier came from Budrus and not any other village, school teacher Abu-Alhasan explained that his village, being close to the green line, would suffer even more. ‘The barrier is planned to run only few meters away from the village’s houses, grabbing west of it most of its land’ He said.
Many of the villagers saw in the separation fence a tool to force them to leave their village and move to Ramallah city, pointing to the fact that Israel was always not happy with Budrus being a West Bank finger that penetrates into Israel.
Today, Abdul-Rahim is back to his land, but this time to try to repair the damaged done to his trees, hoping that he will not need to go back to the struggle any time soon.