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Eyes Wide Open | Photo Blog

Photo blog: National Parks in East Jerusalem

November 2014

One of the tools Israeli authorities use to limit building and development in East Jerusalem neighborhoods is defining areas as national parks. This measure is taken as part of a three-fold agenda designed to maintain a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, create contiguous blocs of land with no Palestinian residents, and increase Jewish presence in the eastern part of the city. In addition, East Jerusalem is the only urban area in Israel where the Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) has declared several national parks, including ones partially located inside built-up urban areas. In some of these parks, the NPA has even delegated some of its powers to El-Ad, an Israeli NGO whose official, stated objective is to “strengthen the Jewish bond to Jerusalem and its history through tours, courses, taking up residence [...]”, and which promotes, among other things, Jewish settlements in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

The following images are of some of the areas that have been already declared national parks in East Jerusalem as well as of areas for which authorities have begun the declaration process. For more information and an interactive tour of the national parks, click here.

Photos: Keren Manor, Activestills.

Wadi al-Bustan, Silwan neighborhood, where the Jerusalem Municipality is planning the Garden of the King National Park. To that end, the municipality plans to demolish more than twenty currently inhabited homes.
Tzurim Valley National Park: Its perimeter borders a-Sawaneh and Wadi al-Joz neighborhoods, constraining their development.
Tzurim Valley National Park. At right: Al-Ibrahimiya School in a-Sawaneh neighborhood, whose development is constrained by the park.
Archeological digs at the Givati Parking Lot, in Wadi Hilwa, Silwan. The site is to eventually house the Kedem Center which will serve as a tourism center for the Jerusalem Walls National Park and the Old City. The center will be operated by the NGO El-Ad.
Wadi Hilwa, Silwan, whose land is a part of Jerusalem Walls National Park.
Al-‘Esawiyah neighborhood: Mount Scopus Slopes National Park will extend nearly to the neighborhood’s houses. The park has been approved, but an appeal has postponed its declaration pending a further hearing by the district planning committee.
A view of Mount Scopus Slopes National Park from Mount Scopus.
‘Ein Haniah, a spring on al-Walajah lands. The spring was included in Refa’im Stream National Park. The NPA is planning to build a visitor center at the site. ‘Ein Haniah is currently used by local shepherds to water their herds, but once the Separation Barrier in the area is completed, it will block their access to the spring.
‘Abd al-Fatah in the cave where he lives on his private land near the village of al-Walajah. The site is part of the area declared Refa’im Stream National Park. On 18 August 2014, Israeli authorities demolished the shed he had built at the entrance to the cave.

Eyes Wide Open Photo Blog by B’Tselem is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to use the photos in the blog. However, any public use of photos must include copyright credit to the photographer and B’Tselem.