Hebrew University expansionist plans

Hebrew University expansionist plans



The Israeli occupation forces commenced on October 2004 ( end of first week) the construction of basic infrastructure in Palestinian lands in Jerusalem city for the benefit of Hebrew University. The location is called Al Orwa Al Wouthwqa in Al Shurafa Mountain ( Mount Scopus) in East occupied Jerusalem.

Heavy Israeli machinery began on October 7th, 2004 the leveling and plowing of Palestinian lands in Al Sammar land (a.k.a Al Orwa Al Wouthwqa) on Mount Scopus, basin number 8 according to the Jordanian classification ( basin number 30508 according to the Israeli classification) parcels 6 and 7 ( sites number 1 and 2 in the attached aerial photo). The two parcels border Al Sammar-Issawiya Road from the north, the road leading to Hadasa Hospital and Hebrew University from the south, the English Cemetery from the east and the road between Al Sammar and Hayat Regency Hotel from the west. ). The two parcels border Al Sammar-Issawiya Road from the north, the road leading to Hadasa Hospital and Hebrew University from the south, the English Cemetery from the east and the road between Al Sammar and Hayat Regency Hotel from the west.

The surface area of this land exceeds 50 dunums as it belongs to more than 250 Palestinians mostly from clans of Lifta village who was dismissed from their original village in the western outskirts of Jerusalem during the 1948 war and became refugees. These clans include Qasem, Khalaf, Aqel, Hamad, Farhan, Ma'ala and Taha. Two more parcels of land (namely 9 and 10 and belonging to Mr. Aziz Shihada and Abdulla Ni'awas) were also plowed by the Israeli bulldozers.

This aggressive act comes under the pretext that the Hebrew University owns the above-mentioned lands and it intends to construct 12 residential buildings each with 12 stories of a total of 1200 apartments. The investor will benefit from these buildings for twenty years ahead while the ownership of the buildings reverts back to the Hebrew University. These buildings are to be used for students housing, university offices, parking lots and parks. The plans for these buildings are filed at the offices of Jerusalem municipality, file numbered 26/930.

The initial construction works have led to the uprooting of hundreds of forestry trees aging as old as hundreds of years, in addition to the leveling of a natural site called Abu Hasira (surface area: 1000 m2) which is located to the north of the current student dormitories and belongs to Hamad and Abu Lail clans from Lifta village. The site is planned to be later transformed into a parking lot associated with the University.

The digging and plowing works led to the removal of a hill and associated shrubberies and are considered as blatant violations of Palestinian Jerusalemites' rights to their land as well as a threat to some nearby houses located in the vicinity of the construction site from its western and south western directions. These houses are inhabited by members of Al Hilo family and are facing the risk of being demolished after Israeli bulldozers dug 15 meters deep next to them and exposed its bases.

 Moreover, this construction project violates the right of Palestinians to reach their houses and properties as it forms a siege that isolates families living in their homes and on their lands. This situation forced Al Hilo families to file a petition in the Israeli court system to defend their 4500 m2 land and their right for free access to it. The Hebrew University claims that it owns the disputed lands after the Municipality confiscated the lands in the past under the notion that it planned to use it for ''Public Benefit'', mainly as public street. Yet it turned out that this claim was used to conceal the true intent of the Municipality as it transferred the land to the ownership of Hebrew University instead of returning it to its original owners.

The concept of confiscating the lands of others and making its owners homeless is not a new policy adopted by Hebrew University which was constructed on lands belonging to the villages of Lifta, Al Issawiya, and Wadi Al Joz during the British Mandate during the years 1926-1935. On Aug 24th 1970, Hebrew University impounded Palestinian lands belonging to Hijazi and Al Abasi clans living in the southwestern part of the University where it built a park associated with it. Israeli occupation forces helped in the establishment of the park as it demolished an old palace which belonged to Al Shihabi clan and replaced it by 'Bus Stop' for Eged Bus Company inside the University.


Furthermore, Hebrew University has been trying since the early seventies to evict nine Palestinian families under the pretext that the lands upon which their houses are built belong to the University. In March 1973, the University went to court in an effort to force the evection of the Palestinian families and the demolition of their homes in order to build more parks, car parking and student housing. Since then the Palestinian families (50 individuals) live in an atmosphere of fear and hopelessness due to the ever-present danger of eviction.

Today, Hebrew University adds new victims to its list of victims from Al Hilo clan, mostly children and elders, in the threatened locations as Israeli bulldozers work since the early mornings until 9:00 PM accompanied with Israeli Army patrols that used to terrorize the residents. An example of such terror is what took place to Mr. Salah Al Hilo (47 years old) who was physically beaten and arrested four times in front of his children in an attempt to break the will of the Palestinians as to force them to stop their objections and oblige them to leave their homes and lands sooner or later.

All of the above-mentioned policies and courses of action made the Hebrew University, which claims in front of the world to be a distinguished liberal institution, to be nothing more than an occupation apparatus that is not different in concept and context of the Israeli occupation Army and its functioning contraptions. This University has killed the sense of security in the minds and hearts of its Palestinian ''neighbors'' for much of the seventies and eighties; Hajj Ali Khalaf and Hajj Jameel Aqel both died due to the practices of the University. It is trying to instill the same fear in the hearts of both Hajja Fatoom (80 years old) and Hajj Abu Musa (85 years old) which turned them into tireless guards of their properties daily and nightly. In this context, Hajj Abu Musa (who was born in the location long before the establishment of the University) said the following:  ' We forgot the taste of sleep. We lost the sense of security inside the house due to the increased number of patrols, threats and bulldozers. We keep a watching eye on them all the time. We cannot trust them. I swear that I won't leave here even if it cost me my life'.

The families in the disputed location confirmed once and again that the Hebrew University did not publish its intended plans which would have given the land owners the chance to legally protest against it.

The Land Research Center affirms the following:

  • The project which is being currently carried out by the University represents a distinct violation of Palestinian property and rights which are supposed to be honored according to the Geneva Accords, International Law and Human Rights.  

  • The confiscation order of more than 3,245 dunums issued by the Israeli Minister of Finance, Binhas Sabeer, on January 11th, 1968 is an illegitimate decision due to its violation of the Geneva Fourth Article as it calls for the displacement of the original owners and replacing them with settlers especially after the building of the settlements of Ramat Ashkol, the French Hills and Ma'a lot Dafna.

The question remains to Hebrew University Administration, Board of Trustees and its funders worldwide:  'Did the University change its message from being an institution of science and education aiming at building human beings through respecting their human rights (including the right of a dignified life and the right of ownership) to become one of the tools of occupation that terrorize, demolish and oppress ?. '


Prepared by
The Land Research Center

Categories: Settlement Expansion