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A win for environmentalism, non-violent resistance
 
 
Battir is a village in Palestine known for its natural beauty and ancient irrigation system. Dating back to the Roman era (2,000 years ago), the system combines terracing of fields with using underground springs as the source of water. It came under threat as Israel started constructing a separation wall that would run right through the system, disrupting the intricate water supply channels.
 
In 2007, the village of Battir sued the Isareli defence ministry for the threat the wall posed to the cultural heritage and practical utility of the irrigation system. They found an unlikely ally in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority that retracted its approval of the wall plans. This led the Israeli High Court of Justice to stay the construction of the wall in 2013, and ask the defence ministry to amend construction plans so they did not disrupt the irrigation system any more.
 
The Palestinian campaign got a big shot in the arm in July 2014, when UNESCO listed Battir in its World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Any future encroachment upon the system would now be very difficult to pursue.
 
“This is a first in the history of non-violent resistance,” says filmmaker Joshka Wessels, referring to the Israeli Nature and Parks authority’s backing of the Palestinian case for Battir’s heritage status. “Environmentalism will hopefully win.”
 
Joshka has a worked extensively in the Arab region. She is currently working on a documentary called “Hydroheritage Palestine” which documents Battir’s irrigation system, the threat of the separation wall and the stories behind its quest for recognition as a world heritage. Here is a short preview: