Above is 'Santa' on Claire's street, 2009, photographer unknown.
Below is Eileen Fleming at Claire's Tomb, 2007, photo by Meir Vanunu.
In February 2003, Claire and her family of fourteen whose three story home and first floor business, adjacent to Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, were informed by the Palestinian Authority that The Wall would soon be coming to their neighborhood.
The family had moved into their comfortable dwelling in 1967, and would spend hours in their back yard garden with a view of open green space and watch pilgrims and tourists visit Rachel's Tomb and welcome them into their gift shop. The family is now encircled on three sides by 25-30 feet high slabs of concrete which have imprisoned them from the rest of the Little Town of Bethlehem: which is Occupied Territory.
For months the family helplessly observed the preparation work all around them, and then one week before Christmas 2003, Claire's children went to school and came home to discover that every view from every window was of the concrete monster.
Palestinians like Claire are imprisoned on the Israeli side of the wall and the once economically thriving and vibrant main street in Bethlehem is now a ghost town for stores and restaurants have been abandoned.
Rachel's tomb and Claire's tomb are divided by the concrete barrier which is topped by guard towers and patrolled by soldiers in battle gear.
Claire's home is less than 500 yards inside Bethlehem, and it had been the closest shop to Rachel's Tomb. Not long ago, multitudes of pilgrims and tourists would shop there, but today only the curious venture down the concrete walled pathway.
According to the Israeli government The Wall which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in The Hague is for the security of Jewish worshipers at the shrine they revere as the Tomb of Rachel. Rachel was the wife of the biblical patriarch Jacob, who was the first to be named "Israel" for having wrestled and struggled with The Divine being.
On May 14, 1948 The Declaration of the establishment of Israel affirmed:
"One the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations."
On February 21, 2003, Raanan Gissin, Spokesmen for Ariel Sharon was interviewed regarding The Wall which imprisoned Claire and her family, and he claimed, "The main purpose here is not to annex that land, but to provide security [and to ensure] freedom of access and freedom of religion."