By Selim Saheb EttabaAL-WALAJAH, Palestinian Territories — Omar Hajaj says he will soon be caged "like a zoo animal," with an electric fence encircling his house and his village hemmed in by the notorious West Bank barrier.
The rumble of bulldozers has become a common sound around this Palestinian village on Jerusalem's southern outskirts as earthmovers work on a huge trench which will be filled with towering slabs of concrete.
After years of interruptions, work finally got under way in April to lay the foundations for another stretch of Israel's "security fence" — a section which will completely encircle this southern West Bank village.
At the moment, villagers have more or less open access to the nearby city of Bethlehem. But not for much longer.
"It is the only village in the West Bank that will be completely surrounded by the wall," says Willow Heske, of the Oxfam humanitarian group, which is helping villagers make their voices heard.
Since the 1967 Middle East War, half of Al-Walajah was annexed by Israel as part of municipal Jerusalem, while the other half remained in the West Bank.
The initial route would have sliced the village in two but following intervention by Israel's high court, it was changed to incorporate the rest of the village — with one exception: the Hajaj family.
When the towering concrete wall is erected, it will cut directly through Hajaj's property, leaving half on the Al-Walajah side, and the rest — including his house and nine acres of land — on the Israeli side.
This would normally have given him free access to Jerusalem.
But last week, government officials told Hajaj his property would be hemmed in by an additional barrier — a five-metre (16-feet) high electric fence.
His only way into the village will be via a gate in the concrete wall.
From his house, Hajaj can just make out Jerusalem's biblical zoo — and fears his fate will soon be like that of the animals.
"Anyone one seeing my house closed off will think they are looking at a zoo with caged animals."