On 1 July , the police sealed the home of ‘Udai Abu al-Jamal, one of the perpetrators of the Har Nof synagogue attack last November. His family received a demolition order two days after the attack, and a petition filed by HaMoked to stop it was rejected. Sealing a home is a draconian, vindictive measure taken against an entire family, suspected of nothing.
On 2 June 2015 the Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers with police escort, arrived to the Abu Khaled family home in Silwan, to demolish two apartments built by the family. The family had no choice but to build without a permit since Jerusalem Municipality policy is to deny permits to residents of this and other Palestinian neighborhoods. One family member climbed to the roof to try to prevent the demolition. He was pepper-sprayed, forcibly taken off the roof, and arrested by the police. Relatives who demanded his release were also attacked with pepper-spray and physical violence. City workers demolished the two apartments.
Since the Nov. 2014 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinians killed four worshippers and wounded seven, the authorities have threatened punitive action against the assailants’ families: demolition of the homes and deportation the wife of one of them, Nadia Abu al-Jamal. She and her children may be cut off from family and friends and denied many official services. The children would lose their state health insurance. Israel must stop punitive measures against family members who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
The villages of a-Sheikh Sa’ed and a-Sawahrah a-Sharqiyah were cut off from East Jerusalem by the Separation Barrier. Formerly, they were part of a contiguous bloc with East Jerusalem, and particularly Jabal al-Mukabber and a-Sawahrah al-Gharbiyah with which they had extensive ties. The Separation Barrier has cut off residents from relatives, places of work and services. Israeli authorities have also imposed arbitrary restrictions that exacerbate the isolation. Israel must remove the barrier, which severs an urban, historical, and cultural continuum and disrupts the lives of tens of thousands of people. Until it does so, Israel must permit regular passage between these villages and East Jerusalem, enabling residents of the isolated villages lead normal lives.
On 13 May 2011, Milad ‘Ayash, 17, was hit by a live bullet fired at him from the Beit Yehonatan settlement in Silwan, East Jerusalem. ‘Ayash died of his wounds the next day. Both the DIP and the Israel Police investigated the shooting; both closed their case files citing “perpetrator unknown.” B'Tselem appealed to the State Attorney’s Office against the decision to close the investigations, noting grave investigative failings. The negligence with which the investigations were conducted and the closing of the files evince disregard by Israeli authorities for Palestinian lives.
According to media reports, the Israel Police notified the families of the perpetrators of the horrendous attack that it may withhold the bodies at this stage because a funeral procession and erection of a headstone "may glorify… the terrorist and make him a role model,” and that this step may “serve as a deterrent". This is another form of harm to innocents official justify as deterrence. B’Tselem calls upon the authorities to make a clear distinction between the grave actions of the deceased and any harm to their relatives, who are not suspected of any offense.
East Jerusalem does not exist in a vacuum. The recent violence in East Jerusalem is happening against the backdrop of a harsh, ongoing state of occupation. There are land grabs and discrimination, as well as severe restrictions on construction and development. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the violence is a “direct outcome of incitement by Abu Mazen”. Yet the direct, causal link Netanyahu is trying to portray ignores the overall picture, which includes Israeli authorities manipulating the declaration of national parks in East Jerusalem for political ends.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday (22 November 2014) that he plans to promote a bill which would revoke the residency status and social security benefits of individuals who commit terrorist attacks or other serious offenses from nationalistic motives and their families. incoming Minister of Interior, Gilad Erdan, has revoked the permanent residency status of the man who drove the perpetrator of the suicide attack at the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv in 2001, to the site of the attack. Residency status and social security benefits are not a favor or boon granted by the authorities. It is Israel’s fundamental obligation toward all individuals living in its territory, be they citizens or permanent residents.
In response to recent events in East Jerusalem, officials made statements about measures they think should be taken to ensure order in the city, and some of these have been implemented. These measures constitute selective enforcement of laws in order to pressure a population that already suffers from a severe shortage of infrastructure, housing and public services. Law enforcement authorities must act to curb violence. However, the draconian measures currently being taken against Palestinians in East Jerusalem amount to collective punishment of a population that lives under occupation and already suffers systematic discrimination.
In March 2014 Hagihon water company stopped regular water supply to north-east Jerusalem neighborhoods isolated from the rest of the city by the Separation Barrier. Consequently, 60,000-80,000 Palestinians –mostly permanent residents of Israel– have no regular water. After unsuccessful requests by residents to Hagihon and the municipality, ACRI petitioned the HCJ to have the water supply restored without delay. On 2 April 2014 the Court instructed the State to respond to ACRI’s petition within 60 days, setting the deadline for the first week of June. . Meanwhile, the residents have no regular running water.
On 27 Jan. 2014 Jerusalem’s Municipality demolished homes and other buildings in East Jerusalem. A B’Tselem field researcher documented these demolitions as well as one by a homeowner compelled to demolish his own home. The photos illustrate Israel’s policy of maintaining a Jewish majority in Jerusalem by significantly restricting development in Palestinian neighborhoods. Israel has also seized nearby land and built Jewish neighborhoods there. Municipal master plans for Palestinian neighborhoods are far from meeting residents’ needs.
The Guardian’s recently introduced interactive site “Walled World” presents walls around the world through images, first-hand accounts and videos. It shows the effect that walls have on the people around them, whether they are being left out or locked in. One section of Walled World deals with the Separation Barrier in the West Bank. It includes three videos by B’Tselem, some produced specifically for this project.
On 19 Aug. 2013, Israeli authorities demolished all the homes of the Bedouin community of Tal ‘Adasa, north of Jerusalem, and gave them ten days to leave the spot. The community is being forced to relocate elsewhere in the West Bank, outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, although they have lived in the area since the 1950s, albeit never registering as East Jerusalem residents. As no housing alternative has been found for the entire community, its 40-odd members and their flocks will have to split up for the near future.
On 19 Aug. 2013, the Ministry of the Interior demolished all the homes of the Tal ‘Adasa Bedouin community, located near Beit Hanina, after pressuring its members to leave the area since 2005. Although the community’s dozens of members have lived within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem since the 1950s, they are not registered as residents of East Jerusalem. Since the Separation Barrier was built there in 2006, they have been trapped in a narrow enclave under Jerusalem Municipality jurisdiction, isolated from the rest of the West Bank. B’Tselem calls on the government of Israel to acknowledge the rights of the community, which has no other place to live, having lived in the area for decades. The authorities must find a solution to the problem that is acceptable to the community members. Demolishing their homes and expelling them constitutes a violation of international law and will leave them homeless and without a source of livelihood.
Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are classed as “permanent residents”, a status usually accorded to foreign nationals wishing to live in Israel and which can be revoked relatively easily. Indeed, since 1967, Israel has revoked the permanent residency status of over 14,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The revocation was part of a politically-driven policy aimed at maintaining the “demographic balance” of a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, by increasing the number of Jewish residents and minimizing the number of Palestinian residents. Most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no legal status anywhere else in the world. Consequently, Palestinians whose status is revoked on grounds of having lived – or having allegedly lived – at least seven years abroad or elsewhere in the West Bank, are left with no legal status whatsoever. Status revocation also means that they must relocate to places outside of East Jerusalem or else remain in it illegally. In contrast, Jewish citizens of Israel will not lose their legal status even if they live outside of Jerusalem for many years.
The planned route of the Separation Barrier around the village of al-Walajah will sever the Hajajleh family from the rest of the village. In 2010, the Civil Administration informed the family that their home would remain on the other side of the barrier, that it would be enclosed by a wire fence and linked to the rest of the village through an underground passageway. After the Hajajlehs petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, the State agreed, in lieu of surrounding the house with a wire fence, to close the underground passageway with a gate that only members of the family would be allowed to cross without prior coordination. Once the Separation Barrier around al-Walajah is completed, the Hajajleh home will be isolated and the family will be denied the possibility of normal daily life.
Israel has reportedly decided to advance construction in the E-1 area of Ma'ale Adumim, connecting the settlement to Jerusalem. Such a move would have severe implications for human rights in the West Bank, cutting the West Bank in two, exacerbating the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and posing a particular threat to Bedouin communities living in the area.
The short film tells the story of the town through two wedding halls that operated there until the construction of the barrier. The film includes rare archival footage of the wedding halls' glory days, before their owners were forced to abandon them when business plummeted.
We've prepared an interactive version to make the key messages of the report accessible to a wider audience. An interactive map presents four case studies; a short video puts a human face to the barrier's impact in one of these places, the town of Bir Nabala; and an animated short gives a lighthearted treatment to a serious subject: the devastating impact of the permit regime for farmers with land across the barrier.
A decade after construction began on the Separation Barrier, the harm to adjacent Palestinian communities is clear. With some two-thirds of the barrier completed, it has crippled agriculture along its route. By isolating communities from each other and from their land, the barrier has eroded their ability to survive and prevents any sustainable development. This reality violates the state's commitment to the High Court that the barrier would not seriously harm these communities.