“For the Favor of its own” Israel is Steadily Moving Toward Overturning the Equation in Silwan
On March 11, 2016, the Israeli daily newspaper “Haaretz” revealed on the Israeli accelerated plans to evict more than 300 Palestinian Jerusalemites from their own houses in Silwan town in the heart of the city of Jerusalem. The newspaper indicated that “Ateret Cohanim” an Israeli right wing colonial organization has 12 suits in the Israeli courts to evict 51 Palestinian families (+300 members) claimed to the courts that the properties belong to the Israeli settlers since the year 1881.
According to the report m Ateret Cohanim obtained control over the land in 2001, when it successfully asked the “Jerusalem District Court”, with backing from the Justice Ministry’s administrator general, to appoint it as the trust’s trustee, on the grounds that the original trustees – appointed back in 1899 – could no longer fulfill their role. In the year 2004, “Ateret Cohanim” began settling Jewish families in Silwan’s Beit Yonatan outpost. Ever since, it has worked to evict Palestinians living on the trust’s land. So far, the organization has settled 10 Jewish families in Beit Yonatan outpost.
The newspaper added that over the past year Ateret Cohanim has emptied another 13 Palestinian apartments in Silwan. A few months ago, however, it apparently decided to begin a concerted legal effort to clear all the land it controls of its Palestinian residents. Most of the 60 families targeted have lived there for decades.
The report provided that for the last year, the state spent 83 million shekels to guard Jews living in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, while this year, the figure is expected to be 74 million shekels. Moreover, the cost of security for Jews in the part of Silwan where Ateret Cohanim operates comes to 12 million shekels a year – about one million shekels per family. This budget, which comes from the Housing Ministry, doesn’t include the extra costs to the police. Nor is Ateret Cohanim the only organization moving Jews into Silwan. El’ad, for instance, has settled 25 families in a different part of Silwan over the past 18 months.
Palestinian Attorney Ziad Ku’war, one of a team of lawyers representing most of the Palestinian families, said he believes Ateret Cohanim is filing the suits now for fear that if it waits, the statute of limitations will expire. The organization obtained control of the land in November 2001, he noted, and the statute of limitations on unresolved land issues is 15 years, “so they have to file all the suits by November 2016.” Ku’war, however, argues that the statute of limitations should have expired long ago, because the administrator general was aware of these lands but made no effort to take control of them.
The Targeting of Silwan……….a Chronology of Events
As a matter of fact, the town of Silwan are facing a systematic colonial targeting by the Israeli settlement organizations in corporation with the Israeli related authorities for the aim of emptying the town from its Palestinian residents. Accordingly and since September 2015 a successive colonial incidents took place on the ground in Silwan :-
- September 30, 2014: Israeli settler groups affiliated to El Ad settlement organization took over 26 homes (8 buildings) in Baydoun neighborhood in Silwan town. The first building, which is composed of five floors, is owned by citizen Ashraf Sarhan and his family. The second building is owned by citizen Elias Karaki and is composed of two floors. The third building is owned by citizen Mohammad Baydoun. The building is built on 250 square meters. A fourth house owned by citizen Youssef Zawahreh and is 100 square meters area. The fifth building is owned by Abdel Naser Qaraein and consists of two houses, 200 square meters area together. The sixth building is owned by citizen Mohammad Khayyat and consists of three residential apartments and finally the seventh building is owned by Al-Yamani family and consists of 8 residential apartments. (ARIJ & SILWAN IC)
- October 20 ,2014: A group of armed Israeli settlers took over two residential buildings (10 apartments) in Silwan town owned by Salah Al Rajabi and Emran Al Qawasmi. Each of the occupied buildings consist of three floors (5 residential apartments). A 700-square meters land is attached to Al Rajabi building. (ARIJ & SILWAN IC)
- November 10, 2014: Israeli Settlers attempted to take over another residential building (two floors) in Silwan town owned by citizen Saleh Ash Shyoukhi.
- January 15 ,2015: Israeli Settlers tried to carry out renovation works in the house of Qaraein family in Wadi Hilwa in Silwan town. Note that in 2012 the Qaraein family was able to obtain a decision from the Israeli Supreme Court that proves its right of ownership of the house and denied settlers’ ownership allegations of the property.
- February 9 ,2015: Israeli Settlers attempted to take over a home and a storeroom owned by Sub Laban family in ‘Uqbet Al Khaldyeh neighborhood in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is worth mentioning that Israeli Settlers filed a case against Sub Laban Family to evacuate the house under the pretext of “not using the property” and the Magistrate court ordered to evacuate the house but an appeal was submitted to the District court. (ARIJ & SILWAN IC)
- March 18 ,2015: El ‘Ad settlement organization and settler groups seized Al- Malhi family property (four residential apartments) and two pieces of land owned by Al Abbasi (500 square meters) and Sha’ban families (1200 square meters) in Silwan under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces. Al-Malhi’s property consists of four residential apartments. (ARIJ & SILWAN IC)
- May 6 ,2015: The “Ateret Cohen” settlement organization took-over three residential apartments owned by Ahmad, Mohammad and Naser Abu Nab in Silwan under the pretext of being owned by the Jews since 1948.
- August 9, 2015: The “Ateret Cohen” settlement organization handed judicial orders to Sarhan family to take hold of their land in Baten Al Hawa neighborhood in Silwan town south of Al-Aqsa Mosque; note that three houses are built on the land and were given 30 days to respond to the settlers’ claims who claim ownership of the houses and the land. The three houses are owned by Ali Sarhan and his son Mohammad and Mohammad Maher Sarhan and are inhabited by 10 people.
- August 27 ,2015: The “Ateret Cohen” settlement organization took over another residential building in “Baten Al-Hawa” neighborhood in Silwan city under heavy protection of the Israeli special forces; The building consists of 12 apartments.
- September 2 ,2015: Israeli settlers affiliated to the Ateret Cohanim settlement organization, and under the protection of the Israeli special forces, raided the house of late Jihad Sarhan in Baten Al Hawa neighborhood is Silwan city and took over the house.
- October 22, 2015, the Israeli occupation forces displaced members of Abdullah and Sari Abu Nab family (9 people) from their two houses in Baten Al Hawa neighborhood in Silwan town after the settlement organization Ateret Cohanim seized their houses allegedly claiming ownership of the property.
- October 29 , 2015, Israeli Settlers prevented the family of Jawad Abu Nab (6 family members) from entering their house located in Baten Al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan Town. The house of Jawad Abu Nab is one among several houses that were recently seized by settlers in Silwan town.
- November 3, 2015 : a crews from the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem hanged an administrative demolition orders on the walls of a Mosque and a car wash station in Silwan neighborhood.
- The threatened mosque is “Al-Ka’ka’” Mosque and located in Abu-Tayeh- Eein Allouza neighborhood in the Jerusalemite town of Silwan in the heart of the city of Jerusalem while the carwash station located in the nearby neighborhood of Abu Ya’koub.
- November 7, 2015: Crews form the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem handed over Palestinian Jerusalemites administrative demolition orders for 9 houses Al-Bustan neighborhood in the town of Silwan. The targeted houses owned by families: Al-Rajabi- ‘Odeh- Abu Shafe’- Bardan – Zeitoun. The aforementioned crews hanged an administration demolition order for a Gaz station in the neighborhood.
- November 29, 2015: The Israeli Municipal court issued a demolition decision for two Palestinian houses (130 m2 each) in Bir Ayoub neighborhood in Silwan under the pretext of lacking building permits. The two threatened houses owned by Maher Abdel Razeq Siyam and his brother Ayoub Siyam.
- December 5, 2015: Crews from the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem stationed in the town of Silwan and handed over Youseph Ja’far an administrative demolition order for his 80 m 2 house along with another 30 m2 structure. Moreover and in the same day the local resident Hani ‘Abbasi received an administrative demolition order for his house in Ein l-Louza neighborhood in Silwan in addition to another restaurant in the same neighborhood.
- December 13, 2015: The Israeli occupation Authorities handed over the Palestinian Jerusalemite resident Youseph Bassbous and his 8 sons an eviction order to the interest of the Israeli extremist settlement organization “Ateret Cohanim). According to the eviction order the land on which Bassbous family built their house on , owned to the Israeli settlers since the year 1881.Furthere more the Israeli authorities handed over the sons of Jaber Abdel Fattah AL-Rajabi an eviction order from their 4 storey building and land located in Baten Al-Hawa in Silwan.
- January 10, 2016 : The Israeli authorities handed over the Jerusalemite resident Mousa Mohammad Al-Abbasi an administrative demolition order for his 230 m2 building under the pretext of lacking proper authorization.
- January 17, 2016:The Jerusalemite resident Mahmoud Al-Abbasi demolished his 30 m 2 animal barracks to avoid 40 thousand fine by the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem.
- January 20, 2016: 30 settlers from El’ad colonial organization occupied a building in Beidoun neighborhood in Silwan claiming that they have purchased the hole building from its owner Ahmad Abu Teir.
- January 20 , 2016: The Israeli bulldozers stormed Wadi Qaddoum neighborhood in Silwan town and demolished without a prior notification 300 m2 house owned by the resident Samer Nassar. Mr. Nassar indicated that he built his house 3 months ago with a total cost of NIS.180,000.
- February 2, 2016 : The Israeli bulldozers demolished an under construction house in Wadi Qaddoum neighborhood in Silwan town. The demolished 220 m2 house owned by the local resident Yahia Mousa and was built 7 months ago.
- February 10, 2016 :Crews from “Israel Nature and Parks” authorities as well as “Israel Antiquities Authority” stormed a piece of land in Al-Abbasi neighborhood in Silwan and owned by the local resident Khalid Al-Zir. Mr. Al-Zir indicated that the Israeli authorities stormed his land without and prior notification or even clarification and deprived him from entering his lands.
- February 17, 2016: The Israeli Minister of agriculture “Uri Ariel”
along with the head of El’ad colonial organization David Bery and the president of the “Jewish National Fund – Keren Kayemet” Dani Attar, protected by the Israeli police stormed Wadi Hilwa neighborhood in Silwan.
- February 23, 2016: Israeli settler organization “Ateret Cohanim” handed out Ar-Rajabi family two court orders to evacuate two Palestinian buildings (each building consist of 3 apartments) in Battan Al Hawa neighborhood in Silwan town in Jerusalem city. The targeted building located in areas that the Israeli organization aims to confiscate (5.2 dunums of land in Battan Al Hawa neighborhood) under the claim that the targeted land owned by the Israeli settlers since the year of 1881. The targeted buildings owned by the local residents Abdel Fattah Jaber Al-Rajabi and Awad Abdel Fatah al Rajabi.
- February 24, 2016 : Israeli settler organization “Ateret Cohanim” handed out Ar-Rajabi family court orders to evacuate their buildings (12 appartments) ) in Battan Al Hawa neighborhood in Silwan town in Jerusalem city. The targeted houses owned by Fathe Al-Rajabi, Harbi al-Rajabi, Yacoub Al-Rajabi and Talal Al-Rajabi
- February 27, 2016 : The Israeli authorities handed over Jerusamite residents in Ein Al-Louza in Silwan an administrative demolition orders for their 4 houses (110 m2 each). The targeted houses owned by “ Nihad Al-Abbasi ( 6 family members), Jalal Al-Abbas (5 Family members), Youseph Al-Abbasi ( 5family members).
- March 1, 2016: The Israeli bulldozers stormed Wad Yasoul neighborhood in Silwan town and started without any prior notification to demolish a (100 m2) Palestinian house owned by the local resident Youseph Abed Sumrein. The Israeli Army clashed with the neighbors during the demolition with number of injuries registered among them where known ( Mohamad Youseph Sumrein, Ahmad Awad, Abu Youseph Sumrein, Khalid Shweiki and ‘Izz Sumrein.
Houses captured by Israeli settlers in Silwan
The Stricken Town of Silwan
Silwan is a Palestinian Jerusalemite town, located to the southeastern part of the old city of Jerusalem. The town extends along Qedron Valley and runs alongside the eastern slopes of Jabal Al-Mukabber. According to the British Mandate classification of lands and properties, the entire lands of Al Bustan neighborhood, which spreads over an area exceeding 70 dunums, have been registered as “Exclusive Jerusalem Palestinian Properties” owned by Palestinian Jerusalemites.
Since the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem in 1967, the town has been targeted by the successive Israeli governments and Jewish extremist settlement organizations and movements such as 'Ateret Cohanim and El 'AD Jewish organizations
The colonization attack on Silwan escalated since 1991, since then more than 40 houses were taken over by force by Jewish settlers. Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan is a section of the part labeled 'Ir David' and was the most targeted one because of its proximity to the western wall of the Old City.
Al- Bustan is one Palestinian Neighborhood located in the middle of the town of Silwan . According to the British Mandate classification of lands and properties, the entire lands of Al Bustan neighborhood which spreads over an area exceeding 70 dunums have been registered as “Exclusive Jerusalem Palestinian Properties” owned by Palestinian Jerusalemites.
Following the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank including Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all the Palestinian Arab neighborhoods in the occupied city of Jerusalem had become a target by the Israeli occupation Authorities and the Jewish extremist colonial organizations.
Map for Al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan
Systematic Israeli Targeting of Al Bustan Neighborhood
- In the year 1991, Israel had escalated its colonial attacks on Silwan city where more than 40 Palestinian-owned houses had been seized and confiscated by Israeli settlers. Moreover, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem along with the Jewish organizations replaced the name of Al Bustan neighborhood on the official and local maps with a new Israeli name which is “The City of David”.
- In the year 2004, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem issued administrative orders to demolish 88 Palestinian houses in Al Bustan Neighborhood (which constitutes more than 90% of the neighborhood's houses) allegedly for lacking proper authorization from the Israeli Municipality and that the ownership of these houses refers to the Jewish extremist organizations “‘Ateret Cohanim” & “El ’Ad” which intend to build the “City of David” at the targeted neighborhood.
- In the year 2005, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem started the demolition process in Al Bustan neighborhood where two Palestinian houses have been demolished. At the end of the year, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem decided to halt the demolitions as a result of international efforts on the Israeli government to stop the demolitions, and a petition which had been submitted by house owners to the Attorney General of the Israeli government calling upon him to halt the demolition process.
- Later in August 2008, Palestinian citizens of Al Bustan neighborhood had submitted a master plan to the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem to obtain building permits for their threatened houses; the Municipality however, informed them that the plan will not be discussed as the Municipality will go ahead with its plan to build a “public park” in the neighborhood. Also the Municipality suggested that the owners of the houses voluntarily evacuate the neighborhood while in return, they will be compensated to live somewhere else outside the neighborhood. Owners of the houses rejected the Israeli offer and the Israeli authorities formally rejected the master plan which they submitted to the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem during the early weeks of 2008.
- Furthermore, on February 21, 2009, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem handed over owners of more than 134 Palestinian families (1500 Palestinians) from Al Bustan Neighborhood evacuation and demolition orders notifying them that they have to evacuate their houses for demolishing to make room for the Israeli plan, “King David Garden”.
- In July 2009, the Israeli Occupation authorities transferred the ownership of 14 Palestinian buildings which occupy an area of more than 28 dunums to Jewish settlement organizations without being ratified by the Israeli Attorney General; in order to build a Biblical Park and Jewish houses instead of the standing Palestinian neighborhood of Al Bustan.
The demolition of Al Bustan Neighborhood……… a step toward the Judaization of the Holy Basin
During the 90s, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem submitted a plan which aimed at Judaizing the area which is called by Israel “the Holy Basin'. The targeted area includes the entire area of the Old City of Jerusalem as well as vast areas from the adjacent neighborhoods and Palestinian communities, starting from Al Sheikh Jarrah and Wadi Al- Juz Neighborhoods in the north, At Tur neighborhood in the east and Silwan city in the south. The plan includes:
Construction of an archaeological city in conformity to the biblical description of 'Holy Jerusalem' under Al-Aqsa Mosque, Silwan neighborhood and parts of the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Evacuating Palestinian inhabitants from their living places and replacing them with Jewish residents starting from Silwan city, and moving towards At Tur neighborhood, Wadi Al Juz, and Ras Al ‘Amud. See Map 2
The 'Holy Basin' project is not only confined to land but it also aims to Judaize the city's cultural, political, demographic and religious status by adopting the following steps:
Israeli Archeological excavations in Silwan
At the beginning of 2007, an Israeli archeological dig started within Silwan town and Ath Thuri neighborhood, close to the historic walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. This plan continues unabated, despite the ageing of various houses and roads at the site of the dig. The dig is financed by “El ’Ad,” a Jewish Israeli association aiming to settle Jews in East Jerusalem. The organization enjoys Government backing and funding from the Israeli Tourism Ministry, the Israeli Nature and Parks Protection Authority, and the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality. Excavation works are ongoing day and night in Wadi Hilwa in Silwan, in the area known by Israelis as David’s City, and in Al 'Ein area near 'Ein Silwan Mosque. There is no doubt that these excavations will have catastrophic effects on the area and will drastically damage the archeological, religious, and urban surroundings. Phony graves and talmudic parks On the 8th January 2012, the Israeli Authorities placed 50 fake graves2 in a 20 dunum plot in the northern part of Silwan town between Al Aqsa mosque and Ras al 'Amud neighborhood in an attempt to capture more Palestinian land in the area for Israeli interests. It is further noted that the graves were placed to isolate the area (the northern part of Silwan town) from the walls of Al Aqsa mosque to establish Talmudic parks and a museum on 3,000 square meters (3 dunums) of land. This plan will link the Jewish cemetery in Ras al’ Amoud neighborhood with At Tur neighborhood and the two settlements in Ras al ‘Amoud Ma'ale Ha-Zeitim and Ma'ale David, which in turn will form a colonial ring around the old city of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa mosque. The Israeli machinery commenced work in the area several months ago and they have already leveled the land and prepared the infrastructure at a very rapid pace
Additionally, on the 31st of May 2012, the Israeli Authorities revealed plan no.3085 which shows the installation of fake graves on lands of Silwan to create a de-facto situation in the town that will be 1 The Occupation Authorities implanted phony graves and installed 320 cameras in Silwan. 2 The Occupation implanted phony graves and installed 320 cameras in Silwan. Palestinian Localities Study Jerusalem Governorate 25 difficult to change in the future. The plan targets Ash Shayyah neighborhood to the east of Al Aqsa mosque and extends towards the Israeli Segregation Wall which surrounds the city of Jerusalem. The plan further classifies the lands of Ash Shayyah neighborhood into ‘Talmudic gardens’ and ‘cemetery areas,’ under the name ‘white zone’. It aims to link the fake graves and Talmudic Gardens in the Mount of Olives area with the Israeli settlements in Ras al 'Amud and with the fake graves and Talmudic gardens in Silwan town and David city settlement, in addition to the Talmudic gardens and fake graves in Wadi ar Rababa in the southern part of Silwan town and with Jabal al Mukabbir neighborhood, to finally surround Al Aqsa Mosque with a belt of Jewish Talmudic gardens to serve the Israeli interests in Jerusalem.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli Occupation Authorities started many years ago constructing a new colonial road and paths to the Talmudic gardens in the northern area of Silwan town, up to the Umayyad Palaces which are near the southern walls of Al Aqsa mosque. It is worth mentioning that the Talmudic gardens and the road which are under construction will prevent natural urban Palestinian expansion in the area adjacent to Al Aqsa mosque and will deny access for Palestinians to the mosque. This in turn, will result in the confiscation of more Palestinian lands in the area for the road and the nearby Talmudic gardens. The road is intended to serve Jewish tourism in the town and around Al-Aqsa mosque.
Moreover , on the 30th of November 2011, Israeli Occupation police raided Silwan town south of Al Aqsa mosque from the Wadi Hilwa area. They closed streets and alleys and started removing Arabic signs and flags while retaining the Hebrew signs placed recently by Israeli settlers in the town, in an attempt to Judaize the Silwan area.
Israeli Colonial plans in Silwan town and Ath- Thuri neighborhoods
On the 14th of February 2012, the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee approved the construction of a tourism project submitted by the association of El Ad in Silwan town, south of Jerusalem city. The project, which will be called the Mercaz Kedem (Kedem Center), will be constructed on 8,400m 2 of land from the Wadi Hilwa neighborhood in Silwan town, a few meters away from the southern walls of Al Aqsa mosque and above the Giv'ati parking lot (as known to the Israelis). The center will be built on stilts and will include a museum, classrooms, meeting halls, and parking facilities, as well as archaeological sites. Beneath it will be an area where visitors can view the recently discovered archeological findings4 . In addition, the project will be linked with a crossroad and tunnels; the first will start at the south eastern site of the City of David, while the second will connect the project to Al Aqsa mosque. This project will facilitate tourist access to the Old City of Jerusalem. Another project with an area of 3000m 2 has been submitted by El Ad organization to be implemented in the 'Ein al Fauqa area in Silwan town in an attempt to resurrect Israeli Heritage sites and to empower their presence in the area.
The dilemma building License in East Jerusalem
The issue of land and building license is considered to be one of the most difficult problems in Silwan & Ath Thuri towns as well as in the other areas of East Jerusalem. The reason for this is two-fold; the high prices of lands and the very high cost of licenses for construction in Silwan & Ath Thuri as a result of the strategic proximity to the Old City and Al-Aqsa mosque. This has made these areas an important target for Judaization, colonization and general restrictions relating to constructing licenses imposed by the Israeli Occupation Forces. According to citizens of Jerusalem, land prices per dunum in the East Jerusalem area and specifically land located within the borders of the Jerusalem Municipality, (which is rarely available) are relatively higher than land located outside the borders of the Municipality, and can even double in places closer to the city center and its surrounding neighborhoods such as Silwan and Ath Thuri. The Israeli Occupation Authorities have used their economic advantage as an effective instrument to buy Palestinian lands in Jerusalem for enormous prices and ‘Judaize’ these lands by housing Jewish settlers in the city. They offer Palestinians very high prices for these lands and properties, especially in the city center and its surrounding neighborhoods. Furthermore, anyone in Jerusalem who owns land and wants to build a house or additional land has to be granted authorization and permission from the Municipality of Jerusalem, which puts obstacles in the way of Palestinians who want to get a building license. One of Palestinian Localities Study Jerusalem Governorate 18 the main obstacles that obstructs this process is that one has to prove ownership of the land. The Israeli Occupation Authorities require that Palestinians seeking to build a house must prove their ownership of the land, which is considered a political problem related to the occupation since 1967.
According to a report prepared by Bimkom Israeli Organization (Planners for Planning Rights), approximately 50% of East Jerusalem lands are unregistered in the archive of ownership, such as those in the town of Kafr ‘Aqab and the area extending from Al ‘Isawiya town in the north to Sur Bahir in the south. Additionally, 25% of the lands in East Jerusalem are in the process of survey and registration (such as Beit Hanina and Shu’fat towns); and only 25% of the lands in East Jerusalem are officially registered, including parts of Al Bireh, Qalandiya, Beit Hanina, Hizma and ‘Anata, Ash Sheikh Jarrah and Beit Safafa (Bimkom, 2004). According to the testimonies of Palestinians in the towns of Silwan & Ath Thuri, for any Palestinians applying to the Israeli Authorities to get a building license, the procedure is lengthy (sometimes lasting years) and carries a very high cost depending on the land area and type of building, ranging between NIS 150,000-300,000. Thus, due to the high cost imposed on Palestinians to acquire building permits and the lengthy Israeli licensing procedures, Palestinians often tend to build without waiting for the license approval in order to meet their housing needs. In these instances, the Israeli Occupation Authorities usually demolish the property and force the Palestinian owner to pay for the demolition and submit a new building application, thereby incurring additional fees and time. On top of this, the majority of Palestinians in Jerusalem are living in difficult conditions because of high poverty rates, which is a consequence of Israeli Occupation closures which restrict their movement, thus preventing them from reaching work places. These Israeli restrictions and harassments against the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, along with the problems of housing, lack of lands for construction and the high unemployment rate, force many Jerusalemites to migrate outside the borders of the Municipality towards the West Bank or even travel abroad in search of better living standards. According to the ‘Civic Coalition for Defending Palestinian Rights’ in Jerusalem (CCPRJ), the Israeli Authorities adopted many policies that aim to enact pressure on Jerusalemites; for example, in the case of the demographic status and urban growth in Jerusalem, the area that is allocated for the development of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and lies under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality is estimated at approximately 9,200 dunums, which represents only 13% of the total area of east Jerusalem. Meanwhile the remaining area is classified as Israeli settlements, green areas (which cannot be used for Palestinian urban growth), public buildings, roads and other areas. Furthermore, the Israeli Authorities often do not prepare the necessary Master Plans for the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem which are required for the urban planning process. When such plans are prepared, the Israeli Authorities usually limit the areas for Palestinian urban expansion to below that which is required for natural urban growth, which varies between 25% and 75%. If one compares these percentages with the percentage of lands used for Israeli settlements, it is found that urban growth varies between 75% and 120%. In Jabal al Mukabbir for example, which is adjacent to Silwan & Ath Thuri towns, the Israeli Authorities determined the urban growth percentage to be 25% (according to plan no.2691), whereas this percentage was set at 142.5% (according to plan no.4558) for the neighboring settlement of Nof Zion “which was illegally constructed on Jabal al Mukabbir lands .
Legal & International Status
The Israeli systematic house demolition campaign, as well as expropriating Palestinian properties which carried out by the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement organizations is Illegal and contradicts with the International law rules and conventions. Following is a synopsis of Articles within these covenants, conventions and law rules that address the issue of house demolitions and forced evictions under these articles:
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
- Article 11 (1): 'The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions'.
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965):
- Article 5: 'States' Parties undertake to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all of its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: … (e) in particular … (iii) the right to housing'.
Universal declaration of human rights, Article 17:
1. 'Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.'
2. 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.'
1. 'Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.'
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949:
- Article 53: 'Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.'
- Article 47: 'Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territory and the Occupying power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.'
- Article 147: 'Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts … extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.'
Hague Regulations of 1907:
- Section II Article 23: 'it is especially forbidden- to destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.'
- Section III Article 46: 'Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.'
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 a (III) of, December 10, 1948.
Article 17 reads: 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.' Which means it bans Israel from destroying or confiscating the property of the Palestinians at any case.
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem