New Israeli Settlement in Jabel Al- Mukaber
As part of their Judaization plan of the Arab city of Jerusalem, the Israeli occupation authorities started on June 2nd, 2002, the establishment of a new Jewish neighborhood in Jabel Al- Mukaber, south east of the old city. The Palestinian inhabitants and landowners living there were taken by surprise when they saw Israeli bulldozers and workers surveying and besieging their land with barbed wires.
The total area of the targeted land is 150 dunums belonging to the Palestinian families of Obaidat, Zahaika, Seri, Mashur and Za'atra. The land is located in the following locations: Maftal Shakhtoor, Wa'er Abu- Zeiter and Bir Al- Sheih. The main contractor for this proposed colonial project is the Israeli Deigel Company For Investment And Maintenance directed by the former commander of Jerusalem police department, Arieh Amiet, and owned by investors Yahuda Levi and Yiftah Shamir.
Forged selling deals
At the end of the seventies of the last century, a new contractor named Abud Levi appeared as an aggressor against Palestinian private properties in Jabel Al- Mukaber. In an interview with LRC field worker, a Palestinian landlord said Levi claimed at the beginning that he bought 5 dunums of land. These five dunums shortly became 59 . Later, it became clear that the deal was held with a dead person who owned nothing of the land and with non existed companies depending on forged documents lacking Taboo, signatures of neighbors..etc.
Three projects at the same location
Palestinian inhabitants in Jabel Al- Mukaber said they had heard of Abud Levi immediately after the announcement of project number 2077 for the year 1977 to build villas in the same site – the first project – which was objected by Palestinian owners at the time. However, they were surprised in 1994 by the announcement of another project carrying the number of 4558 after having been endorsed by the regional committee for housing and planning encompassing the construction of 395 flats in 31 buildings over an area of 115 dunums – the second project -. Despite continuous legal and juristic opposition on part of Palestinian owners, the Israeli occupation authorities announced the third project, which is considered complementary to the second one. This new project includes the addition of a hotel, restaurant and lift car. It carries the Hebrew name of Nof Zehav ( View of Gold in English). The details of the plan include the construction of a 5 star hotel and a six-storey restaurant with a rotating observation tower overlooking the city of Jerusalem, and an aerial lift car linking between the hotel and Telbuit Jewish quarter to the south west passing over the Arab quarter of Al- Thuri and Peace Forest in Wadi Yasul. See Photo 1
Collaboration on part of Jerusalem municipality
Palestinian citizens, lawyers and engineers said that the collaboration on part of Jewish municipality of Jerusalem in this case appears in its most horrible face for many reasons, among of which is the following:
- The land under target was previously registered by Jerusalem municipality as '' green zones '' prohibiting any building on it according to the master plan of the area. Now, it has become legal for exclusive Jewish construction.
- The same land which the municipality under the pretext of ''public use'' confiscated from Mr. Ahmad Eid Zahaika has become part of this private project which makes the confiscation order null from a legal point of view.
- This project was firstly announced in 1994 ( 8 years ago) as mentioned above and the Israeli law cancels any project that hasn't been implemented within three years of announcement. But, the racist policy of Jerusalem municipality has a lot of exceptions in favor of Israeli settlers, including the following examples related to this issue:
The confiscation of Palestinian land for '' public use '' and the annexation of the same land for a private Jewish investment project;
The classification of Palestinian land by Jerusalem master plans as '' green zones'' forbidden for Palestinian construction while the same land has been classified as a construction area with a maximum percentage of 150 % for Abud Levi who illegally owned it.
The absence of any genuine legal checking on part of the Israeli authorities of the forged documents of this case whereby Abud levi claims ownership of the land despite its lacking of Taboo and other essential proofs.
The Jerusalem municipality turned down building licenses to Palestinians at the site and even demolished some houses such as the house of Mr. Mohammed Za'atreh and other buildings belonging to the family of Seri. At the same time, the Jerusalem municipality allows for Jewish building at the same site with a maximum percentage of 150. That is, 14 housing units are allowed for Jews per one dunum at this location.
The Jewish municipality of Jerusalem didn't inform land owners quite early of the third project – the hotel, restaurant and lift car – to deprive them of enough time for objection. Even though, the previous objections by Palestinians against the first and second projects were not taken into consideration whatsoever by the Israeli planners who decided to implement the third complementary project.
The Jewish municipality of Jerusalem ignored all of the court decisions issued earlier by Israeli courts in favor of Palestinian owners, Mr. Ahmad Eid Zahaika and Mr. Hussein Obaidat whose land annexed together with the land of their neighbors to the new project.
Two master plans for Jabel Al- Mukaber
The Jewish municipality of Jerusalem had drawn up two master plans for Jabel Al- Mukaber: the first; with a total area of 4642 dunums, including 20 % as roads and road buffer zones which have started to threaten a number of houses with demolition, the second; with a total area of 572 dunums of which only 117 dunums allocated for construction and has almost become full by now and 70 % was allocated as green area.
Olmert is very, very happy for the project
Speaking to the Israeli press, the head of the Jewish municipality of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert said that his municipality granted necessary licenses to establish this project. He added that he was very, very happy over the start of work in this project confirming that if it had been his decision he would have done it long time ago. He also claimed that no land was confiscated, rather, Jewish contractors from the private sector bought some pieces of land at this location among of whom was Mr. Arieh Amiet, the former commander of Jerusalem police.
Olmert's sayings contradict reality
In an interview with LRC field worker, one of the landowners, lawyer Hussein Obaidat, said that in the past he had won a decision from Israeli courts, including the high court, against contractor Abud Levi who claimed ownership of the land. Lawyer Obaidat reiterated determination to go to courts again to defend his land. He added that statements by Ehud Olmert are false and baseless.
Israeli leftist groups protest .
In this context, member of Israeli Kneset (parliament) from Meretz party, Mr. Moshe Raz, said that the former commander of Jerusalem police Areih Amiet who was supportive to the division of Jerusalem should have realized the danger of establishing a Jewish quarter in Jabel Al- Mukaber. Mr. Raz described the proposed project as a provocative act which aims at the creation of a situation similar to the one in Hebron. That is, the creation of colonialist nuclei that guarantee the blockade of any possibility to hand over the city into Palestinian side in any future peace negotiations. To achieve this goal, Israeli authorities have recently intensified Jewish construction in the Arab quarters of Sheik Jarrah, Al- Musrara, Ras Al-Amud, Al- Thuri and Jabel Al- Mukaber.
Work activities continue under strict security supervision
Israeli sources confirmed that the project is being implemented by the Israeli ministry of interior, the Jerusalem municipality and businessmen under the security protection of dozens of Israeli soldiers and security personnel. 115 dunums of Palestinian owned land have been sieged off and Israeli bulldozers started to level the land despite strong continuous Palestinian protests and confrontations See Photo 2.
Israeli security man guards a bulldozer leveling the seized Palestinian land in Jabel Al- Mukaber.
A number of landowners informed LRC field worker that they had tried to get building licenses from Jerusalem municipality but were told that the land is classified as 'green land' ;prohibited for construction. Mr. Mahmud Abed, one of the owners, said that the Palestinian owners obtained owner-papers dating back to the Jordanian, British and Turkish eras. The landowners expressed deep resentment over the Israeli stereotyped and discriminatory measures against them reiterating the fact that the Jewish municipality of Jerusalem didn't allow them to build on their land and, on the other, gave Jews permission to build on a land they even didn't own.
Mass sit in and confrontations
On Friday, June 6th, 2002, owners of seized land along with solidarity groups started their protest actions by holding Friday prayers and erecting a tent on the disputed land. Israeli police and army used military force against protesters causing a number of injuries and arresting two landowners. Amongst the injured persons was lawyer Hussein Obaidat, a landlord, who suffered a fractured arm. See Photo 3
Palestinian landowners and supporters face an Israeli bulldozer working on their land in Jabel Al- Muka…
Preventive order from an Israeli court
In another development, the Israeli magistrates court issued a preventive order following a complaint by landowners represented by lawyer Shlomo Laker. The court order calls for an immediate halt of all work activities at the site. Judge Refa'el Ya'gubi issued the order which stipulated that the Israeli Degel company should stop all types of work at the place, including works of siege, leveling and measuring.
Lawyer Shlomo Laker confirmed that Degel company, in collaboration with Jerusalem municipality, didn't follow required legal measures to obtain land ownership.
Work continues despite court order
Israeli work activities continue unabated despite the above-mentioned court order. The Israeli persistence to continue illegal work has led to fierce confrontations between unarmed Palestinian land owners and their supporters, on one hand, and the heavily armed Israeli police and security men, one the other hand. More causalities amongst protesters were reported to have happened. See Photo 4
Protest tent stolen
On June 11th, 2002, Israeli security men at the site stole the tent set up earlier by Palestinian protesters and landowners. However, another tent was erected at the same location where landowners expressed determination to go on with their actions until the abolishment of this colonial project. The protest is still going on until the preparation of this report.
The project is part of the ''Gates Plan''
LRC filed worker in Jerusalem reported that this project comes within the ''gates plan'' drawn up by current Israeli Prime Minister Areil Sharon when he was minister of construction in the former Likud government of Yitshaq Shamir in 1990. The 'gates' project aims at creating more Jewish nuclei in east occupied Jerusalem to block any possibilities for future Palestinian sovereignty over this part of the city. This is exactly what is happening now a days in the Arab quarters of east Jerusalem, in addition to the establishment of the ring road around the city to separate it from the West Bank, as well as the creation of the security zone along the southern borders of the city which annexed hundreds of dunums from Bethlehem land.
Israel's actions in this regard are contradictory to all international and humanitarian norms and agreements, particularly, the fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the occupying power from transferring its citizens to the occupied land, or making any changes on the ground.
The Land Research Center