Sixty-eight Palestinians, twenty-six children among them, live in the area called Tel 'Adasa, in East Jerusalem, on land Israel annexed in 1967, near the 'Atarot industrial area and Begin Road (Route 404). West of this road, on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel, Israel built a section of the Separation Barrier, which separates the residents of Tel 'Adasa from the adjacent town, Bir Nebala, which lies outside Jerusalem 's municipal borders. Although all the residents of Tel 'Adasa have dwelled permanently in their community for dozens of years, and many were even born there, Israel has never recognized them as residents of Jerusalem, and they have not been given Israeli identity cards. As a result, the Israeli authorities consider them to be staying illegally in East Jerusalem . They are technically forbidden to enter or stay in Jerusalem (even in their own homes) or receive any services provided by the state.
This situation forces the residents of Tel 'Adasa to rely heavily on Bir Nebala. The children study in the school in Bir Nebala, which lies only one kilometer from their homes, and the residents go to Bir Nebala to shop and for basic medical care. Since the Separation Barrier was built, residents of Tel 'Adasa have been able to get to and from Bir Nebala through one passageway that the authorities left open in the barrier. Border Police are posted at the opening, which the residents could pass through without a permit. The opening also was their only way to get to Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank, since crossing through the nearby Qalandia Checkpoint, on their way home from Ramallah and from elsewhere in the West Bank toward Jerusalem, requires Israeli identity cards, or a permit to enter Israel, which, as mentioned above, Israel does not grant to residents of Tel 'Adasa.
On 12 September, without any prior warning, security forces blocked the opening, thereby detaching the residents from the rest of the West Bank , and from Bir Nebala in particular. This meant that the children could not get to school.
On 23 September, after having not gone to school for ten days, the residents decided to send their children to school, via Qalandia Checkpoint.
The parents were concerned the children would not be allowed to cross the checkpoint on their way home after school.
Upon learning that day of the closure of the passageway in the barrier, B'Tselem immediately called the Civil Administration's Humanitarian Hotline, which authorized the children to cross. However, the authorization was received late in the afternoon, near the breaking of the daily fast of Ramadan, and there weren't any vehicles to drive them home from the checkpoint. The children and the persons accompanying them spent the night in the street, in the commercial area of Bir Nebala. The next morning, 24 September, B'Tselem coordinated arrangements between the children and their escorts at the checkpoint with the Hotline, and they were able to get home. Since then, to get home each day, the children have had to rely on B'Tselem coordinating the matter with the Civil Administration.
The refusal of Israel to recognize the residents of Tel 'Adasa as residents of East Jerusalem, thereby turning them into persons staying illegally in Israel, gravely infringes their human rights, especially their right to freedom of movement, in flagrant breach of international law. The building of the Separation Barrier and the recent closing of the only opening in the barrier, which is their only way to get to and from the West Bank, prevents them from obtaining services outside Jerusalem . This situation has made their living conditions intolerable, and is liable to lead to the rapid removal of them from their homes.
B'Tselem calls on the Israeli government to dismantle the Separation Barrier in this area and recognize the right of the residents of Tel 'Adasa to stay in East Jerusalem and move about there freely. Until then, the authorities must reopen the passageway in the Separation Barrier and issue permanent permits to the residents so that they will be able to cross Qalandia Checkpoint.
Tel Adasah children break the Ramadan fast in Bir Nabala streets. Photo: Kareem Jubran, excert from B'Tselem Video.