our visit .
and houses, populated with tens of thousands of Israeli Jewish settlers. These new towns or cities were large, modern, and permanent. We did pass one new temporary settlement of half a dozen trailers near a built up settlement‐this way a site not authorized by the Israeli government begins as ”facts on the ground” with the likely outcome of being authorized by the government after the fact as ”expansion to accommodate natural opulation growth.”
The words ”refugee c amp” also suggested temporary housing, though many families have lived in “camps” more than 60 years. Visiting the Aid refugee camp, land crowded with homes near Bethlehem, we walked past one of the original single story concrete UN camp dwellings with very little living space for a family. But as the camp land was fixed and population grew, the homes have been expanded and built up by individual families into a dense variety of buildings of multiple stories, with plants growing in pots and boxes on ledges and staircases to make up for the lack of green space. Expansion of land for natural population growth is not an option in the camps. We saw no open spaces for children to play other than the streets or the bare land along the separation wall. The wall provided a surface for creative graffiti, slogans and artwork depicting all the villages that the camp residents had been forced to leave decades ago.
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the land on which the camp is built is temporary, the land is on a 99 year lease. As decades have already passed since the camp was opened, we can only wonder what will become of the thousands living in Aida and other camps when the lease runs out.
So now we understand that settlements are permanent …..and literally new Israeli towns. Refugee camps are temporary….. but in fact, decades old Palestinian neighborhoods or towns built on land with a lease running out . These are the facts on the ground and they point to the difficulties that lie ahead and must be faced.