‘This is Jerusalem: Violence and Dispossession’ – report by B’Tselem Israeli human rights organisation

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Israeli terrorists burn the Sharafat village mosque near the town of Beit Safafa, south of Jerusalem, and write racist slogans

ISRAEL’S policy regarding Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem is driven by its goal to take over as much land as possible and expand its control as far as it can while doing what it can to degrade their residents, according to a new report by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem.

In the report titled: ‘This is Jerusalem: Violence and Dispossession in al-’Esawiyah’, B’Tselem said that in the case of the Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Esawiyah, the ongoing, violent police operation there “throws into relief what Israel has already made clear regarding the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem: as occupier, it sees the people who live there as no more than subjects who can be treated as it wishes.’
It said, ‘Since annexing East Jerusalem, Israel has viewed the Palestinians who live there as an unwanted addition.
‘The policy it implements in these neighborhoods – which is particularly blatant in al-’Esawiyah – is aimed at incessantly pressuring the residents.
‘In the short term, this is meant to oppress Palestinians in the city, control them and keep them poor, underprivileged and in a state of constant anxiety.
‘Given Israel’s declared intention to ensure a Jewish demographic supremacy in Jerusalem, the long-term goal of this cruel policy appears to be to drive Palestinians to breaking point, so that they ‘choose’ to desert their homes and leave the city.
‘This conduct clearly demonstrates the demographic considerations that guide Israel’s actions: preferring Jewish citizens over unwanted Palestinian residents.
‘Accordingly, the Israeli authorities incessantly harass the entire Palestinian population of Jerusalem, including the blatant example reviewed in this report: the 22,000 people who live in al-’Esawiyah.
‘This abuse, which is the result of an ongoing policy led by all Israeli governments since 1967, lays bare Israel’s priorities in the only part of the West Bank it has – as yet – taken the trouble to formally annex: no equality, no rights, and not even reasonable municipal services. Instead, state authorities use their power in the annexed territory to cement the superiority of one group over another.’
The report said that ‘for more than a year now, the Israel Police has engaged in a violent campaign in al-’Esawiyah. Special Patrol Unit and Border Police forces regularly enter the neighborhood for no reason, without any prior occurrence that could justify police presence, much less the presence of aggressive paramilitary forces on such a large scale.
‘Special Patrol Unit and Border police officers, armed from head to toe enter the neighborhood with vans, jeeps and drones and intentionally create arbitrary instances of violent ‘friction’ that disrupt routine and make daily life extremely difficult in the neighborhood.
‘Among other things, they randomly close off main streets, creating long traffic jams; use loudspeakers on patrol cars and police vehicles late at night; provoke residents by aiming weapons at them; conduct degrading inspections and search cars and bags (including children’s schoolbags); verbally goad residents; order shops to shut down for no apparent reason, without showing a warrant; use dogs to search shops; raid homes and search them without a warrant; and falsely arrest minors (sometimes in the middle of the night), in severe violation of their rights. Initially, regular police officers also patrolled the neighborhood, took up positions at exit points and ticketed drivers, business owners and passers-by for negligible infractions.’
B’Tselem said that since occupying the West Bank in 1967, Israel has taken over more than 90% of al-’Esawiyah’s land using expropriation, declaration of ‘state land’ and military seizure. While in 1945, al-’Esawiyah land spanned some 10,000 dunums, today, the neighborhood’s 22,000 residents have access to less than 1,000 dunums.
Most of this area is densely built, and there are hardly any land reserves for construction leading to extreme poverty, over-crowdedness, and building chaos.

  • Israeli forces detained this morning at least 19 Palestinians throughout the occupied territories, but mainly from East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS).

It said the forces detained 10 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, most of them from its old city after raiding their homes during the night hours, while detaining this morning a guard of Al-Aqsa Mosque while on the job at the mosque compound.
The army continued its week-long campaign in the northern West Bank town of Yabad, where a soldier was killed last week, and detained two 17-year-old minors and another 23-year-old youth. The army has detained more than 30 people from the town so far.
In addition, soldiers detained two people from the village of Kobar, near Ramallah, where the army demolished a house last week, three from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, including a 17-year-old minor, and a man from the town of Obeidieh in an effort to get his son to turn himself over to the army.

  • Germany and Switzerland support the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) and the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA) by supplying the local authorities with gear and material to protect their front-line workers in performing their duties during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

Essential staff are being equipped with personal protective gear and materials in order to maintain basic public services such as waste collection and hygiene safeguarding during the ongoing crisis.
This includes protective suits, masks, gloves, sprayers and calcium chloride for sanitising. The items have been procured from the local market. The support is targeting all local authorities in West Bank with an estimated overall value of 200,000 Euros, including 40,000 Euros contribution from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Under the supervision and arrangements of all partners, the first two batches of material have been handed over and the remaining supplies shall be delivered within the next 10 days, said the press release.
‘The gear and material provided we provide as a member of Team Europe will help the Palestinian local authorities ensure the safe reopening of their offices, thereby minimising the risk of a new outbreak of the virus,’ says the Head of the German Representative office in Ramallah, Christian Clages.
From his side, the Minister of Local Government, Majdi al-Saleh, confirmed that “all Local Authorities play an important major role in facing the challenges of the Corona Virus Pandemic by maintaining constant provision of services to the citizens during the pandemic by creating innovative solutions’.
Al-Saleh also pointed out that the Palestinian Government represented by the Ministry of Local Government is working hard on raising funding and coordinating the efforts of direct response for the Local Authorities.
APLA’s president, Musa Hadid, stated that ‘in this situation of huge challenges and extra burdens to the LGUs in Palestine, these protective materials provide better precautionary measures for the Local Authorities’ staff.’
The Corona-related support to Palestinian Local Authorities is part of the Local Governance Reform Programme (LGRP) and the Strengthening Youth for the Stabilisation of Palestine Program (SYSP), both implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), the German Foreign Office (AA), and the Swiss Development Cooperation. The German Government has been supporting the Palestinian Local authorities for more than 20 years.