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From the field

East 6 Voices - Settlement enclaves in East Jerusalem

The settlement enclaves in East Jerusalem surround the Old City Basin from the south, east, and north, and some of them are positioned on main roads leading to the Old City, enabling control of movement along these routes. Also, settlement enclaves have been established in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, with the objective of surrounding the Temple Mount.

Police evict Qara'in family from their home in Jabal Mukabber. Photo: Wadi Hilweh Information Center, 23 Nov. 10.
Police evict Qara'in family from their home in Jabal Mukabber. Photo: Wadi Hilweh Information Center, 23 Nov. 10.

The main enclaves are in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, in Silwan (Ir David), in Ras al-‘Amud (Ma’ale Zeitim and Ma’ale David), in a-Tur (Beit Orot), in Abu Dis (Kidmat Zion), and in Sheikh Jarrah (Nahalat Shimon). It is estimated that some 2,000 settlers live in these enclaves. The actions of these organizations in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods generate violent friction and constant tension in those neighborhoods.

While the initiative for establishing the enclaves comes from the settler organizations, they have benefited from extensive Israeli state assistance and support. The organizations have gained control of Palestinian property with the assistance of authorities such as the Custodian of Absentee Property, have purchased from Palestinians, sometimes by questionable means, and have demanded that control of property that was Jewish-owned before 1948 be transferred to them.

The government and the Jerusalem Municipality support the settlement efforts in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and in the Old City by allocating private security guards, paid for by taxes, to protect the enclaves; by sending security forces to accompany takeover of Palestinian assets and houses; by funding and promoting building and development projects in the enclaves; and by transferring government assets, such as the Archeological Garden around the Old City, to the control of the organizations.

The enclaves infringe the right of the local Palestinians to freedom of movement, privacy, and security. The settlers’ security guards intimidate the residents and limit their movement near the enclaves, even of children wanting to play near their homes. In buildings in which settlers live alongside Palestinians, the Palestinians’ movement is also restricted inside the buildings themselves. Security cameras installed by settlers violate the privacy of the other occupants, sometimes even filming events inside their apartments. In addition, the police discriminate against Palestinians. When friction occurs between the two populations, they frequently protect only the rights of the settlers.