Hassan used to work at the Mount of Olives Intercontinental Hotel. Bus 40 took him to the centre of Jerusalem in half an hour. Then the Israelis built the wall. The journey became impossible. A massive detour. A long wait at a checkpoint. And you needed a permit.
So he gave up his job and worked on the land his grandfather gave to him with his wife Muna, growing olives, apricot and grapes.
At 7 am one morning the Israeli army arrived with big tractors. They built another wall right through his olive groves and just a few inches from his house.
He looked on in horror as tractors uprooted 200 olive trees in the way of the wall. “When I saw the trees uprooted, I couldn’t believe it. I worked all my life on these trees. I tried to stop them, but what can I do against the Israeli army?”
The wall encircles the new settlement of Givat Rada, which is built on land confiscated from the village and cuts the road from the village to Jerusalem. Just to rub salt in the wound, the settlers sometimes throw stones and even tear-gas over the wall into Hassan’s backyard. He showed us the empty canister (below).
On just one day a year Hassan is allowed through the gate to harvest the 100 olive trees he still has on the other side of the wall.
“They say it’s is a security wall. It’s not for security,” says another member of his family. “This wall is a thief. It steals land from the village. There’s not enough land left to keep the people. So people leave the land.
“In the settlement they have a swimming pool and sprinklers for their lawns and fountains, but it’s our water and there’s no water in the village. From March to October there’s no rain and we have to buy water from water trucks at 100 shekels for 1000 litres.”
Sitting in the shade of a sweetly-scented lail-el-khedre tree, Muna remembers the time before the wall when both Arabs and Jews lived in the village. “There was no problem living with Jewish people. There was no army here, no fighting.
“Jerusalem is my city, but I can’t visit it now. There’s no way I can go there. It is easier to go to China than Jerusalem. I hope the British and American people come and see the truth, one eye to Israeli people and one eye to us.”