Housing demolitions carried out under the pretext of unlicensed construction are a common occurrence in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians are rarely granted permits by the Israeli authorities to build houses in the city. Apartments prices have risen drastically in Jerusalem — 120 m apartment would cost approximately $350,000. As a result, they are forced to build without a permit, which often results in the Israeli authorities issuing demolition orders on unlicensed buildings.
In 2013, 82 houses owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem were demolished, effecting 281 people. In recent years, self-demolition of houses has become common in East Jerusalem as the Palestinian owners of “unlicensed” houses are forced to choose between demolishing the houses themselves or paying the Jerusalem municipality to do so for them.
In this video Muhammad ‘Amireh speaks of his experience of having to demolish his own house.
Jerusalem – A video, captured by Rami Alarya of the Alqods Independent Media Center, showed a number of Israeli soldiers assaulting a Palestinian child, on Friday evening, February 4 2014, after shooting him by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the leg, and photographing themselves abusing him.
The soldiers assaulted the child during clashes that took place in the al-Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.
One of the soldiers tried to push the cameraman, Alarya, and his colleague, Amin Alawya, away from the scene, and was yelling at them, “Enough, enough…. go away… what do you want…”
Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, Yassin al-Karaky, 13 years of age, with a rubber-coated metal bullet, which hit the 13-year old in the leg. After he fell, the soldiers began assaulting and abusing him.
The attack took place after soldiers, who hid in a building near the Annexation Wall in the Qabsa area, ambushed a group of children, and one of the soldiers opened fire on the children.
Then several soldiers attacked and assaulting the wounded child before kidnapping him.
The soldiers took pictures of themselves with the wounded child, and a soldier picked up a Molotov cocktail from the ground, while the child shouted in Hebrew, “it’s not mine, it’s not mine”, and a soldier responded, “it’s yours, it’s Ok… it’s yours”.
One of the soldiers was holding him in a choke-hold, and was mocking the child by imitating wrestling moves while other soldiers took pictures, although the child was barely able to breathe.
The soldiers then placed the child in their jeep, while one of them was still filming the incident.
Here, right to freedom of movement is relative. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
We usually prefer to exit Palestine using Hizme checkpoint, where unlike other exit checkpoints, there are no long lines of cars, we aren’t detained and there is no need for identification or getting out of the vehicle to open and present the content of the trunk. You merely slow down by the soldier and answer a generic question like “how is it going?” with an “OK”. Sometimes even that isn’t required, just nod your head and that’s it, you can drive on.
But it’s different for us than for those who don’t pass the test examining the visage and accent of the driver. They, Palestinians from east Jerusalem, in spite of being permanent residents who have the right for freedom of movement (unlike their brothers who reside in the West Bank), are forced to stop, park their vehicle by the soldier’s post on the side of the road, identify themselves, exit the car and open the trunk so the solider can see inside.
Their right to freedom of movement is relative and they are subjected to the mercy and whims of the men in uniform.
The individual’s story is testimony to the story of the general public. The individual in this case was A who after visiting his family intended to drive through Hizme on his way back, with him were his wife, his baby son and someone he knew that said to him: “could you do me a favor, I need to get to Jerusalem, could I ride with you?”- So he did. A didn’t give him a thorough inspection, and had no idea what color his ID was and what was his address. He was just doing someone a favor. But the soldier at the checkpoint did perform an inspection and found out that A was giving a lift to someone who wasn’t permitted to pass through a checkpoint intended only for settlers, like Hizme checkpoint.
The man was arrested and taken away.
A was told to turn his engine off and to stay in the vehicle, in addition they took his car keys.
A, his wife and their child sat and waited. But the baby, who had yet to learn that a soldier’s order must be obeyed, began crying and wailing. The minutes that passed were long and the crying only grew stronger. But they couldn’t step out of the car, they couldn’t take the baby out of his booster, and he couldn’t be cradled in his mother’s arms. A tried getting out to reason with them, but was told to: “stay in the car!” and so he got back in.
After an hour his car keys were handed back to him and his wife and child were sent back home, while A was taken to the police station. There he waited for another hour, until he was given a summons to return on the next day.
Ever since he has been going back and forth to the police station, each day he waits for his name to be called, then he is taken into a room, the piece of paper he was handed on the previous day is taken from him and in return he is given a new paper summoning him to come back on the next day.
The time, the agitation, not to mention the money- all these are of no importance and are not taken into account.
Once he dared to ask why they weren’t handling his case and a policeman said to him: “I don’t have time for you, I’ve got lots of work”- “But my case is part of your work”, replied A, but instead of an answer he got a piece of paper in exchange for the one given to him on the previous day.
Yes, he will be back tomorrow, and perhaps even on the day after that.
This is how the representatives of the authority, who have unlimited power in their hands, handle people, whose rights are conditioned by circumstances.
(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)
GAZA — Palestinian media forum (PMF) has strongly condemned the plan of American TV company (NBC) to film a drama series, in partnership with the occupation municipality, in Silwan in occupied Jerusalem.
PMF said in a statement on Thursday that NBC is preparing to produce and broadcast a drama series in the “City of David”, with the aim of strengthening the Israeli narrative about the city of Jerusalem, which would give legitimacy to Israel’s policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied Jerusalem.
According to Israeli and American media, the NBC network is cooperating with Israeli authorities, film makers and the Keshet Media Group to produce an action series entitled DIG mainly in occupied East Jerusalem, near the Old City.
Most of the filming will take place in the so-called “City of David national park”, which is established on Palestinian property in the neighborhood of Silwan and which is operated by the Israeli settler organization El’ad and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
The PMF asserted that the production of this drama series comes within the framework of the falsification of history and the Judaization of Jerusalem.
Later this month Palestinians will be celebrating an important anniversary, namely the decision by the UN General Assembly a year ago to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state.
But not with much joy, I suspect.
Its upgraded status enables Palestine to now take part in UN debates and join bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Predictably, Israel flew into a rage at the prospect and said the move pushed the peace process “backwards”, while the US said it was “unfortunate”.
So what has the Palestinian leadership done with this precious gift of empowerment from the international community?
In March this year the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, concluding four years of investigations, called for the ICC to investigate “crimes” committed by Israel in the occupied territories. The Tribunal said it would “support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court”. Since Palestine was awarded observer status at the UN the previous November, it could file complaints on its own behalf against Israel with the Court. The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognise Palestinian jurisdiction and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to examine the Israeli case.
Also in March the United Nations Human Rights Council said Israeli settlements in the West Bank were a “creeping form of annexation” and the international community should take steps to halt business ties with those communities. Their report claimed that Israel could be culpable for these acts before the International Criminal Court. The mission asked Israel to withdraw its settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and urged the international community to comply with their obligation under international law to act.
In April senior Palestinian officials were saying that if Israel began construction in the area designated “E-1″ , a piece of land in the West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem seized by Israel in 1967, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would join the ICC and seek indictments on war crimes charges. It is believed that Israel’s administration had just given provisional permission to build some 3,300 Jewish homes on E-1.
Palestinians say that Israeli construction there would make an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible because it would cut off East Jerusalem (which is Palestinian) from the rest of the West Bank.
But why is Abbas waiting for the bulldozers to go into E-1 when there’s a long list of other examples of criminal settlement building and atrocities that Israel ought to be charged with?
In June Dr. Saeb Erekat, Palestine’s chief negotiator, was criticising the policies being pushed by Israeli PM Netanyahu “including aggressive settlement activity, home demolitions, evictions and ID revocations. This is part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian State, by annexing and changing the status quo of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine”.
The Israeli government, with its destructive policies, was determined to make US Secretary Kerry’s efforts fail, he said. Israel’s actions made it clear they were declaring the end of the two-state solution. The international community should be pushing Israel to implement previous agreements and adhere to international law instead of calling for a resumption of negotiations. “There is a new urgency to face reality and finally hold Israel accountable for destroying the prospects of justice and peace.”
Israel was turning up its aggression against the Palestinian people while we were trying to reach a negotiated solution, grumbled Erekat. “After the announcement to intensify negotiations made by US Secretary John Kerry, Israel destroyed the village of Khirbet Makhoul for the fourth time and approved further settlement expansion aimed at sealing Occupied East Jerusalem from Ramallah.”
Palestinian leadership shows no sign of starting the justice ball rolling
“Our position is clear and in line with international law: all Israeli settlements in Palestine are illegal… and undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution. If Israel is serious about peace, they must cease all settlement activities.” Erekat again demanded action by the rest of the world “to make Israel pay the price for its institutionalized defiance of international law and UN resolutions”.
But there was still no sign of his own people – the Palestinian Authority and the PLO – taking action on their own account, or at least starting the ball rolling, even though the international community had given them the wherewithall to do so.
Now I hear that Israel is drilling into 3.5 billion barrels of oil reserves straddling the armistice ‘green line’, most of it lying under the West Bank. According to official agreements, says Al-Jazeera, “Israel is obligated to coordinate any exploration for natural resources in shared territory with the Palestinian Authority, and reach agreements on how to divide the benefits.”
Ashraf Khatib, an official at the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations support unit, described the oil field as part of Israel’s “general theft of Palestinian national resources… the occupation is not just about settlements and land confiscation. Israel is also massively profiting from exploiting our resources. There’s lots of money in it for Israel, which is why the occupation has become so prolonged.”
And, of course, the world knows how the Palestinians are prevented from benefiting from their offshore gas field and how, if Israel has its way, they’ll never get a sniff of their own gas either.
‘Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle’
Since the beginning of the Oslo process over 20 years ago, the rights of the Palestinian people have been sacrificed on the altar of so-called political progress, the glittering prize being ‘peace and security’. But that was never really on the cards. All we’ve seen is a continuous slide downhill for the Palestinians while the Israelis’ colonisation and expansion programme goes from strength to strength. “In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements continues relentlessly, while the illegal Annexation Wall creates a situation that is completely at odds with both international law and the stated goals of the peace process,” says Shawan Jabarin in an excellent article Time for the ICC to act on Palestine.
“Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle: generals and politicians know that they can violate the law with impunity, fuelling a continuous cycle of violations and suffering. The result has been an increase in war crimes committed against innocent civilians. Throughout Palestine we are struggling for the right to live, and the right to live in dignity.”
Talking of the right to live in dignity, only today I was reading how some of the Palestinian villages are used by Israel for military training exercises in which soldiers enjoy virtual impunity with regard to their cruel behavior in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the pretext being that the Israeli military is the sovereign authority over the whole territory. “This edict contradicts international law and numerous United Nations resolutions that question the Israeli claim to sovereignty over all Palestinian land,” reports IMEMC .
The Israeli military frequently invades Palestinian towns and villages, with soldiers running through streets and alleys with loaded automatic weapons, ransacking homes and terrorizing residents, for the purposes of ‘training’. Residents and the human rights groups representing them have provided numerous examples of the soldiers tearing through homes and yards, breaking into houses, running up and down stairs and taking over rooftops of family homes as part of these exercises.
It’s bad enough that villages experience actual Israeli military invasions on a regular basis. Now, since the military makes no attempt to differentiate between an invasion and a ‘training exercise’, the villagers are just as terrorized as they are during real raids.
Wasting that all-important empowerment on a dumb promise
International justice remains out of reach for millions of civilians because the corrupt US, UK and EU political establishments conspire to ‘persuade’ Palestine not to join the ICC or press war crimes charges and other complaints against racist Israel. The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, meanwhile, is waiting for Palestine to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and become a full member if it wishes to commence proceedings.
To pretend there is something wrong with pursuing a brutal oppressor for war crimes through the proper channels – that is, the ICC – while talking peace, is absurd. No peace is sustainable unless it’s underpinned by international law and justice.
So a week ago I sent a ‘press enquiry’ to the Palestinian Embassy in London, addressed to Ambassador Hassassian. It said:
“What is the PA/PLO doing, please, to regularise its position regarding the ICC statute and satisfy any remaining requirements for exercising its membership rights and bringing charges against Israel for its crimes?
“What still remains to be done and why the continuing delay after the international community cleared the way and unpgraded Palestine’s status?”
No reply, no acknowledgement, despite follow-up phone messages. Silence speaks volumes and is par for the course when dealing with Palestinian officials.
However, I’ve heard it said that Abbas promised Kerry not to seek justice through the ICC during the nine months or more the going-nowhere peace talks will be… well, going nowhere. That takes us by my reckoning to May next year, or beyond. And he gave the undertaking without wringing from the Israelis a corresponding promise to halt settlement planning, construction and enlargement.
Welcome to the Palestinian School of Appeasement.
Israeli forces Monday demolished a property in occupied East Jerusalem owned by the Roman Catholic Church, displacing 14 Palestinians. At a press conference held by the ruins of the home, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Tawwal condemned the demolition in the presence of senior church officials, foreign diplomats and journalists, saying “there is no justification for the demolition” and accusing the Jerusalem “municipality and the Israeli government” of “increase[ing] hatred” through its policies.
Tawwal claimed that it was the first time Israel had demolished property belonging to the church, and promised “legal action in appropriate courts” in response.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that hundreds of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem have recently received demolition orders, notices which give residents 30 days to appeal.
Palestinian-owned properties in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem are routinely demolished by the Jerusalem municipality on the grounds of lacking the right permit – permits that are notoriously difficult to get. For example, just 13 per cent of the Jerusalem housing units granted building permits in the period 2005-’09 were in Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Photo credit – alarabiya.net
Suspected Jewish extremists slashed the tires of five Palestinian-owned cars in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem overnight, a police spokeswoman and local media said on Tuesday.
Separately in the occupied West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus, Israeli settlers set fire to a car, Ma’an news agency cited a Palestinian Authority official as saying.
“Five vehicles were vandalized close to the Old City at the entrance to the Silwan neighborhood, and the slogan ‘price tag’ written on a wall nearby,” spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Initially carried out against Palestinians in “retaliation” for their filing lawsuits against Israel to reclaim stolen land occupied by settlers, price tag attacks have become a much broader phenomenon with racist and xenophobic overtones.
And in the northern West Bank, Ma’an reported that settlers from the illegal Yizhar outpost torched a car belonging to a Palestinian man at the entrance of the northern West Bank village of Burin, according to official Ghassan Daghlas who documents settler crimes.
Tuesday’s attacks come two days after police caught four Israelis red-handed as they destroyed Christian tombstones in a Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem cemetery.
An international human rights organisation has revealed that one-third of the Palestinian-owned houses in Jerusalem face demolition under the pretext that applications for building permits were incomplete. This, claims Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, is a way for the Israeli authorities to continue their demographic war against Palestinians in the Holy City. Israel gives Jerusalemite Palestinians the right to use just 13 per cent of the area of occupied East Jerusalem to meet the needs of their growing population.
A report from Euro-Mid shed some light on the widespread Israeli settlement programme in Jerusalem. It mentioned that the financial committee of the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality decided to support 1,500 new settlement units in the city at the end of August. The human rights group also pointed out that Israel’s bulldozers are still razing Palestinian homes in Al-Tour neighbourhood because the authorities plan to set up the “National Israeli Park”.
According to the UN, poverty is getting worse among Palestinians in Jerusalem. Euro-Mid noted that the unemployment rate rose to 78 per cent in 2012 compared with 64 per cent in 2006. More than 40 per cent of Palestinian Jerusalemites now live below the official poverty line; one of the reasons is the disparity in wage rates between Israeli and Palestinian labourers.
Euro-Mid has called upon Israel to stop its frenzy of settlement construction in the occupied territories and to protect Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem, as the potential capital of a Palestinian state.
- Israel levels 7 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (worldbulletin.net)
- Jewish settlers occupy Palestinian land in Al-Quds (worldbulletin.net)
- Dozens Injured In Jerusalem, Two Kidnapped (imemc.org)
- Palestinians Attacked By Soldiers In Jerusalem’s Old City (imemc.org)
Israel urged the European Union on Friday to undo planned sanctions against it in the occupied West Bank and called for talks, a shift in tone from previous Israeli anger, retaliatory measures and threats.
Under guidelines adopted by the executive European Commission in June, Israeli “entities” operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not be eligible for EU grants, prizes or loans from next year.
The move was deplored by Israel, which has constructed thousands of illegal settlement houses in the West Bank and claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. Neither the settlements nor claims to Jerusalem are recognized internationally.
The right-wing Israeli government responded on July 26 by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians. On Thursday it accused the Europeans of harming so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and said it would not sign new deals with the 28-nation bloc given the planned sanctions.
But Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin backed down a little on Friday, offering to negotiate with the European Union over the guidelines of the sanctions.
“We are ready to hold a creative dialogue with the Europeans. We understand their position. We reject it, we don’t like it, but it’s their right when it comes to using their money,” Elkin told Israel Radio.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Aston, Michael Mann, said Brussels was willing to clarify the new guidelines in talks with Israel.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.5 million Palestinians who own the land. Israel snatched those territories, along with the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights, in the 1967 war.
Occupation forces left Gaza in 2005 but has annexed the Golan – another territory affected by the EU move.
Internationally, the settlements are considered illegal.
The BBC’s insistence on describing Jerusalem as an Israeli city, despite such a status not being recognised under international law, has been condemned by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
In a ruling delivered this week, the BBC Trust appears to have accepted Israel’s facts on the grounds, namely that Jerusalem is a united Israeli city.
Writing to PSC, the Trust quotes the BBC’s Senior Editorial Strategy Advisor, Leanne Buckle, in her assessment of the BBC’s decision to describe Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
The Trust writes: “The advisor [Buckle] acknowledged that Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem was not recognized under international law. However, she considered that Israel had de facto control over the entire city in a political, administrative and military sense. She also noted that Jerusalem was administered as a single entity by the Jerusalem municipal authority which made no distinction between East and West.”
Based on this, the Trust has said it will not consider a complaint by PSC that BBC journalists are breaching the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on Accuracy when they refer to Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
Under international law, only West Jerusalem is considered to be under Israeli de facto control, not the whole of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is described by the UN as Occupied Palestinian Territory that has been illegally occupied and annexed by Israel.
In recent months, items on the BBC’s Today and The World Tonight programmes have described the whole of Jerusalem as being an Israeli city. The country profile page for Israel on the BBC website states that Israel’s seat of government is ‘Jerusalem’.
To date, the BBC continues to insist that it will not change this entry to ‘West Jerusalem’.
Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, said: “The BBC’s refusal to distinguish between East and West Jerusalem flies in the face of international law and international opinion.
“Instead, Leanne Buckle’s comments reveal that Israel’s illegal creation of facts on the ground appear to have been accepted in BBC newsrooms and by BBC senior management. What’s more, the BBC seems willing to elevate this illegality above international law in its reporting. This is extremely disturbing.”
Colborne added: “The status of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue, and all reporting relating to it should be subject to the highest standards of accuracy by responsible news organisations. The BBC appears to have thrown accuracy out of the window, along with international law. Moreover, it seems to have airbrushed Palestinians and East Jerusalem out of the picture.”
“All we’re asking is that the BBC inserts the word ‘West’ before ‘Jerusalem’ when referring to the part of the divided city that is recognised under international law as being under de facto Israeli control. It’s a question of accuracy. Why is the BBC fighting so hard against it?”
- Siam family from Sheikh Jarrah, struggling against eviction order and not giving up (palsolidarity.org)
- New Israeli Ethnic Cleansing Policy in Jerusalem (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
JERUSALEM – An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced two Palestinian MPs to 30 months, a committee official said.
PLC deputy Mohammad Tawtah and former Jerusalem affairs’ minister Khalid Abu Arafa were sentenced to 30 months plus a one-year suspended sentence for conducting “Hamas activities,” said Amjad Abu Asab, the director of the Jerusalem prisoners’ families committee.
The judge ruled that the MPs must serve an additional six months if they enter Jerusalem, their hometown, Abu Asab told Ma’an.
The MPs have been in Israeli custody since Israeli police detained them in a raid on the Jerusalem headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in January 2012.
The elected officials took refuge at the Red Cross building in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah in July 2010 along with lawmaker Ahmad Attoun after Israel revoked their residency permits.
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces demolished two homes in the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Tuesday, having earlier destroyed two Palestinian homes in al-Tur.
Witnesses said that a large Israeli police force surrounded the buildings in Jabal al-Mukabbir and closed off the area before demolishing the buildings.
One building belonged to the Abu al-Dabaat family and consisted of three floors housing four families. The second building was home to the al-Qaq family and housed three people.
The al-Qaq family built the property 13 years ago and received a demolition order in 2002 for lacking a building permit. The demolition order was halted and an Israeli court ordered the family to pay 80,000 shekels ($21,800) as a penalty.
The family then tried to obtain a building permit, but were unable to do so.
Earlier, Israeli forces demolished two houses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, leaving seven people homeless.
According to the UN, 33 percent of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing at least 93,100 residents at risk of displacement.
Figures from Israeli NGO Bimkom show that 95 percent of Palestinian applications for a building permit are rejected.
Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have demolished some 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem. Over 1,630 Palestinians were made homeless in house demolitions carried out by Israel between 2004-2012, B’Tselem says.
- Israel demolishes West Bank homes, water wells (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap Two Children In Jerusalem (imemc.org)
- Israeli court rules to allow mosque demolition in Jerusalem (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)