Donald Macintyre: 'I want the wall to come down. The right to return can come later'

Eyewitness

Share
Related Topics

Though better than the view of the slabs of concrete that make up the military barrier facing their apartment, the view through the side window on to the UN schoolyard had never seemed that special to Suad Abu Aker. Until yesterday. It afforded such an ideal vantage point from which to watch the Pope speak that the 48-year-old Muslim woman invited her Christian friend Gloria Elias over to witness the spectacle. "I love them," a delighted Mrs Elias said of her neighbours. "They are good friends."

Since the separation wall is a central preoccupation for Mrs Abu Aker and her five unemployed, grown-up children, the message the Pope delivered was especially welcome. Before its construction, said Mrs Abu Aker, "there was land on the other side; the farmer used to let us pick olives and there was a place where the children could play". That mattered, given Aida is one of the most crowded refugee camps in the West Bank – 5,000 people in 500 square metres.

But the economic impact of the hemming of Bethlehem has been more far-reaching. The widow of a building contractor, Mrs Abu Aker has seen the family's income dry up because her sons – like the eldest, 27-year-old Wael, who was a gardener in Jerusalem – can no longer work in Israel. The family now depends on UN food handouts. His sister Suhair, studies education at al Quds Open University and wants to teach but there are no jobs. "There are hundreds like me, she says.

Then there is Ahmed, 22: "He loved a woman but he really couldn't afford to get married," said his mother. "He was so crazy about her that we borrowed money and he got married. Now he hides under the bed whenever anyone he owes money to comes to the door. He will pay them back when he gets a job."

Mrs Abu Aker's parents fled Malha in West Jerusalem after the Dieir Yassin massacre of 1948 and all the family say they dream of going back to their home, now occupied by Israelis.But her son Ali, 21, says that for now he has one wish – "to be in work". His brother Wael agrees: "I want the wall to come down. The right of return we can talk about later."

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

John Rentoul
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...