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West Bank Village Struggles to Survive

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"Israel has the right to defend itself," he said. "We think we can do it with electronic devices, closed circuit cameras, and radars, not by a physical barrier, not a fence, not a wall, nothing." 

"We need it open for the public. We need it open for nature."

Area around Batir provides an ecological corridor. Destroying it by wall or fence construction would be tragic, he added.

He stressed two main points. One is the ecological corridor. It provides animals different climate areas.

Batir landscape is the other. It's too beautiful and historic to destroy. It's unique and picturesque. It's on a hillside south of Jerusalem.

Farmland is arranged by traditional terraces. Natural springs irrigate it.

According to engineer Raed Samara:

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"The damage that will happen if the wall is built will never be solved. There will be environmental damage." 

"There will be increase in rats and harmful animals. The animals who are living in this area will not be able to move around, such as gazelles."

Since 2005, villagers waged legal battles. They petitioned Israel's High Court. They did so through through Israeli environmental organizations, Friends of the Earth of Middle East, and Israel's Nature and Parks Authority.

Last October, Israel's High Court ruled. It issued an injunction. It banned Wall construction. Justice Uzi Vogelman gave Israeli authorities 14 days to respond.

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Villagers proposed an alternate Wall route. Doing so leaves their land intact. Part of Batir lies inside the Green Line. Israeli construction so far hasn't violated it.

Attorney Kais Nasser represents villagers. "According to (Israel's) plan," he said, (village) lands will remain behind the fence, which will drastically change the status quo in the area and lead to the breaking of an international agreement between the parties."

It existed since 1948/49. Nasser rejects Israeli claims. Saying Wall construction protects Israeli security doesn't wash. It's the land, stupid. 

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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