Apartheid Territory: Biddu and Al Jib in Palestine



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(1) A military road on the route of Israel’s separation wall, above which the bridge connecting the Gharib family with Beit Ijza was built. / Photograph by Lior Volinz (2015)

There are places in Palestine where the various territorial and architectural means implementing the Israeli apartheid concentrate on a relatively small territory (in Hebron or Qalqiliya for instance). A few kilometers north of Jerusalem, beyond the Green Line, one can find such a territory. Between the Palestinian towns of Biddu and Al Jib, both surrounded by the apartheid wall and only linked by a 1.5 kilometer tunnel, a series of infrastructural and architectural apparatuses enforces the absolute segregation of space. The two maps displayed here provide context to four photographs by Lior Volinz (anthropologist and urban geographer at the University of Amsterdam) presented on the two next pages.

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(2) The Gharib family home, fenced by an extension of the Israeli separation wall. On the other side of the fence the buildings of the settlement Givon Ha’hadasha can be seen.
Photograph by Lior Volinz (2015)

The latter introduce the drastic situation of a Palestinian house built in 1978 on agricultural land, which was seized by the Israeli army to accommodate the settlement of Givon Ha’hadasha. The house was later surrounded by the apartheid wall (see photographs 2 and 3) when it was built in 2005. The only thing that links the house that hosts of a family of ten members, to the Palestinian village of Bayt Ijza is a bridge whose access is filtered by a gate (see photographs 1 and 4).

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(3)The perimeter road of the Israeli settlement Givon Ha’hadsha near the remainder of the Gharib family olive grove. / Photograph by Lior Volinz (2015)

Only few instances of racist design in the world can be considered equating the level of explicit administrative segregation that the Israeli apartheid implements: the Palestinian house considered here has been for instance literally put into a cage.

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The bridge, under Israeli military surveillance, controls all access to the Palestinian home; the entrance gate is remotely controlled by Israeli military personnel.
Photograph by Lior Volinz (2015)

The spectacular example that it embodies should however not blind us from the “normal violence” experienced by Palestinians whether they live on one side of the West Bank or Gaza apartheid walls or the other, not to mention the millions of refugees living outside other walls, erected by the Israeli government on the borders of Historical Palestine.

The architecture of the apartheid is a literal one (see Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation, Verso, 2007), as well as an administrative, infrastructural, legal, military, economic, cultural, and imaginative one. Many of these layers’ violence cannot be shown on maps or photographs, but dictate the conditions of daily lives of both Palestinian and Israeli bodies.

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Map by Léopold Lambert for The Funambulist (2016)