For Palestinians, life in Batan al-Hawa is a pressure cooker. The neighborhood, located in Silwan in East Jerusalem, is deliberately neglected by the Israeli authorities, primarily the Jerusalem municipality and suffers overcrowding and a lack of basic public infrastructure needed for everyday life.
To make matters worse, residents live under a constant threat of eviction, as the Israeli authorities, using the Ateret Cohanim settler organization as a proxy, work to evict some 700 Palestinians from their homes in the neighborhood. This campaign, which is fully backed by Israeli courts – including the Supreme Court – relies on disregard for key facts, dubious arguments and flawed legal reasoning.
Fourteen families have been evicted so far. In three recent cases, the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court approved the eviction of four others: the Shweiki, ‘Odeh, Dweik and a-Rajabi families, which together number 47 people, 14 of them minors. Hundreds of other residents live in constant uncertainty regarding their own and their children’s future and without any real ability to shape their lives as they wish.
The arrival of settlers a few years ago has made life intolerable for Palestinians, who are forced not only to contend with hostile neighbors, but also the inevitable Border Police and armed guards that come with them and consider the Palestinian residents a constant threat, treating them accordingly. Every settler family that moves into the neighborhood reaffirms Israel’s declared policy to drive hundreds of Palestinians out and take over their homes.
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Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.