Tuesday 28 April 2015

Battir village and its beautiful terraces are now a world heritage site.

Battir is a village in area C which lies just above the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway which in 1949 was taken over by Israel. The Israelis began work on the railway in 2000 and it is still under construction. They did not change anything from the old Turkish railway they just changed the track.
Here water comes twice a week, there is a problem with the water in this area despite there being several springs.

Battir is famous for its agriculture which includes the steps in the hillsides and irrigation system which was built in the roman era. Residents here still use the roman channel for water pipes which has provided fresh water from seven springs for 2,000 years and they still swim in the bath which collects the rainwater.

Photo of Battir village with its protected terraces behind a roman built pool which collects the fresh water from the roman irrigation system.

When the Israelis first came to the village they moved all of the people out it used to be much more but now the population is about 10,000 people. When the Israelis came to move people from Battir one man from this village was friendly with king Bassir of Jordan, king Bassir conversed with the Israelis and the man who was friendly with king Bassir and the rest of the residents got their land and houses back as long as it was away from the railway.

A photo of the railway in the valley below Battir village

The last station before Jerusalem is here in Battir. The railway is used to take produce away to sell from places such as Hebron. It is no longer the last stop before Jerusalem, now the last stop is Malha. The railway is also used by refugees in Tel Aviv.

There was a bridge over the railway however the Israelis damaged it. Now there is a level crossing for people to walk over also. There are also settlers living close by. Palestinians, Settlers and other Israelis hike often in this area.

There is no way of trading with the outside world without going through Israel and this is why the railway is so important. An artist from Battir, Sultan Shami made hand made products and 70% of sales were from Israel. When the boycott Israel began to be very much implemented in 2014 Israel took revenge on Palestinians by boycotting the work from this artist among other products from Palestine.

Before Battir village terraces was a world heritage site a separation wall was intended to be built through the valley for ‘safety’ reasons, the Israelis lost the battle for this wall since it is now a protected world heritage site. If a separation wall was to be built through Battir it would destroy the landscape and this would be terrible for the agriculture and the landscape it is most famous for.
Israeli archeologists came to Battir to try to prove Jewish people lived here but they could not prove this as they found no evidence. It is commonly believed in Israel that all of Palestine is Jewish land and not Palestinian.

The Roman irrigation system

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