What is life in Bethlehem under occupation like? Why not ask the Anastas (also spelt Anistas) brothers and their families? Johnny and Claire Anastas and George and Arlette Anastas are two Palestinian Christian families that wake-up every day and see the daily face of occupation.
The two brothers and their families live in a three-storey home, that is immediately surrounded on three sides by the Separation Wall.
Their families are forbidden to use the roof of their house (unless they seek for a permit) and to enforce this rule shots may be fired in their direction if they go on the roof.
During the second intifada their roof top was used as a military outpost by the Israeli military.
Image: Americans for Peace Now map
The strange wall shape may have something to do with the proximity of Rachel’s tomb which is very close to their house.
Image – from Al-Haq, ‘Virtual Tour: Impact of the Annexation Wall’.
Claire Anastas says that before construction of the separation wall began in 2002 she had a thriving business selling souvenirs to tourists traveling to the Holy Land. She says now her business has died and so has the income of her family. In October 2008 she resorted to online sales to help provide income for her family. Claire writes on her family website “[i]t is my fervent prayer that technology will help us survive financially.
We now have an online store where you can purchase Palestinian gifts (sculpted out of olive wood) and help support local Palestinian craftspeople. We will ship your purchases to you anywhere in the world.”
Claire’s sister-in law Arlette in the same vein have to set up an online business to survive. Her family sells baptism garments.
Al-Haq an independent Palestinian human rights organization visited their home in 2010 to document the impact of occupation and The Wall (Al-Haq refers to the wall as the Annexation Wall).
Video: Al-Haq, ‘Anistas House’, uploaded Alhaqhr 8 September 2010. Video of George and Arlette Anastas. George and Arlette share the same house with his brother Johnny and his wife Claire and their family. They both have online stores).
Al-Haq constructed a virtual tour of the West Bank and includes a virtual tour of the Anastas family.
Virtual Field Visit: Impact of the Annexation Wall from Al-Haq – Human Rights on Vimeo. Video: Al-Haq virtual tour of the West Bank and the Annexation Wall
[ See the Anastas home Bethlehem Area at 1:57. Text: “This map shows how the Annexation Wall has been built in such a way that expropriates land from within the West Bank for the construction of settlements. When completed, only 13% of the Wall will be built on the Green Line, with the remaining 87% built on West Bank land.”]
Al-Haq’s report on the Annexation wall is found here.
Views of the Anastas home
Anastas Home (map)
Anastas home, Sabeels’ 7th International Conference, November 2008
Other articles on the Anastas families
Claire Anastas, ‘Hanging out the laundry during the second intifada’, 18 December 2009
‘New online business in Bethlehem’, Guli institute, Fall 2009
‘Bethlehem adapts under shadow of Israeli wall’, Associated Press, 24 December 2008
‘ The house with seven walls’, Palestine Monitor, 3 June 2008
‘The writing on the wall: Claire Anastas’, The Electronic Intifada, 23 December 2005
Al-Haq – Human Rights
Al-Haq, ‘Virtual Tour: Impact of the Annexation Wall’.
Maps of the West Bank and Gaza
Americans for Peace Now [Map]