Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Israel / Palästina: Schade, dass Beton nicht brennt

Montag, Juli 2nd, 2012

A Decade of Separation

By Mina Remy
July 2nd, 2012

The Separation Wall is now 10 years old. The Israeli government has not reversed course despite protests, a UN General Assembly resolution (ES-10/13), an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion, and almost unanimous international condemnation.

The Israeli government began constructing the Wall—a system of electric fences, concrete walls and ditches—across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2002 at the height of the second Intifada. Though  many in the international community, including the UN General Assembly and then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, readily acknowledged Israel could build a wall as a security measure, all voiced strong opposition to the proposed path of the wall. Instead of the proposed (and since then actual) incursion deep into the West Bank (incorporating settlement outposts while isolating Palestinian communities), the UN urged the Israeli government to build the Separation Wall either within its own territory or along the internationally recognized “Green Line” (the de facto border between Israel and Palestine since the 1949 Armistice). The UN’s reasoning was that such construction would minimize the social and economic impact of the Wall on Palestinian communities – hard to imagine how since Palestinians in the occupied territories had been economically integrated into Israel since the occupation began in 1967.

Also, the international community was [rightly] concerned that as planned the Wall would create “facts on the ground” that would undermine the eventual creation of an independent, viable, contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Today in 2012, the combination of the Wall, the numerous settlements (which in some cases are really large towns), and the Israeli-controlled Area C (at 60%, the majority of the West Bank including the vital Jordan Valley) the notion of an independent Palestinian state is just that – notional, as in unreal. What is on the ground are dozens of little Bantustans (including Gaza, the largest of them) à la Apartheid South Africa.
Concerned with Israel’s flagrant disregard of ES-10/13, which called for an  immediate end to the Wall’s construction, the UN General Assembly requested an advisory opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’ from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On July 9, 2004, the ICJ issued its landmark advisory opinion, concluding that the construction of the wall was contrary to international law, violated Palestinian rights to self-determination and “that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.” The ICJ further ordered the Wall’s immediate demolition and compensation to Palestinian communities for destruction caused by the Wall’s construction through their communities. Even the Israeli Supreme Court intervened in 2004, 2005, and 2007 ordering changes to the Wall’s path where it found a proposed  route’s detrimental impact on the economic and social lives of Palestinian communities far outweighed the government’s security interest. 
While in Palestine, I observed the meandering path of the Wall as it snaked across a vibrant landscape—complete in some places, and with only a skeletal metal structure in others. As a first-time visitor to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the Wall felt oppressive and looked dreadfully out of place in the Holy Land. There’s nothing holy about this Wall. It’s currently 90 percent complete and is twice the length of the internationally recognized Green Line at 422.53 miles long with 85 percent of the Wall falling within Palestinian territory. As a result, 8.5 percent of Palestinian land, mostly agricultural land, is now on the Israeli side of the Wall in the so called seam zone—an area between the Green Line and the Separation Wall. For all practical purposes, this land is inaccessible to Palestinian farmers. For one, they need permits to cross the Wall, and secondly entry and exit points through the Wall are few and far in between. What was a five minute walk from home can now be a two-to-three hour journey or more and not on foot!

Effects of the Wall on Palestinian Communities
For Palestinian communities encircled within the Separation Wall – which is practically the entire West Bank – life is severely circumscribed. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) regulates entry and exit into their communities through gates that are only open a couple times a day for less than 30 minutes, if at all. All visitors, including emergency personnel, require entry permits. Because these communities rarely have health services, schools, and first responders within the community, restricted access to these basic resources affect their ability to access health care (including in emergencies), to educate their children and to put out fires. And since the Wall’s path consumes farmland, affected communities are becoming more dependent on food aid from humanitarian agencies as food insecurity increases.
The Wall is breeding discontent and poverty in affected communities. The Palestinians I spoke with in places like Tulkarm, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem reported traveling a minimum of 30 minutes to get to places that were once five minutes away before the Wall. They spoke of diminished access to water and their farms. They spoke of not being able to sell to neighboring communities with whom they had traded for centuries. They spoke of children not being able to get to school. And they spoke of the Wall’s negative impact on household income. The injustice of the Wall’s destructive path through agricultural land, the way it separates communities, or completely isolates Palestinian communities by imprisoning them within unnatural concrete slabs are a few ways in which it violates Palestinian rights to self-determination and human rights.  It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which one increases one’s security by unilaterally constructing a wall through a neighbor’s house. Your neighbor would not stand for it—no one would, including Palestinians who demonstrate against the Wall on a weekly basis.
The Wall was purportedly constructed to protect Israelis, including nearly 500,000 settlers living across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But since Israelis can move freely across many areas of the West Bank, these settlers enter adjacent Palestinian towns and villages where they have uprooted olive trees, set Palestinian farms and mosques on fire, and destroyed wells. Palestinians across the West Bank are living extremely difficult lives in the shadow of the Wall.
Who Benefits from the Separation Wall?
Israel is the primary beneficiary of the Wall because of land and freshwater resources acquired by the Wall’s construction. And that is really what the Wall is about – permanently incorporating the settlements (that extend deep into the West Bank as far as the Jordanian border), the Jordan valley (the West Bank’s bread basket), and the major sources of water (such as the Mountain Aquifer) into Israel.
However, there are also corporations profiting from the misery of Palestinian farmers and communities. One such corporation is Elbit Systems, Ltd., an Israeli defense contractor instrumental in the Wall’s construction that provides drones and surveillance equipment utilized in monitoring Palestinians along the Wall. Its products help the IDF control Palestinians’ freedom of movement along with access to their farms and wells. Elbit’s shameless profiteering from the occupation  is one reason Grassroots International launched a campaign calling for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) to divest from all Elbit investment holdings. The Elbit campaign calls on TIAA-CREF to do the right thing by living up to its motto of “Financial Services for the Greater Good.” 
The 3.7 million non-profit and public sector employees who hold TIAA-CREF accounts are unwittingly funding house demolitions, displaced communities, land and water grabs, food insecurity and widespread human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories through their TIAA-CREF investments. These are all acts that are decidedly not in the public interest and do not advance a just society nor a just, peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the 8th anniversary of  the ICJ’s advisory opinion striking down construction of the Wall as an illegal, unilateral act contrary to international law, Grassroots International is renewing its call to TIAA-CREF’s 3.7 million account holders—join us in demanding an end to TIAA-CREF’s continued investment in Elbit. 
At this year’s shareholder meeting, tell TIAA-CREF that they cannot promote the greater good by funding the destruction of communities and livelihoods throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.  Sign our petition today.
Photo by: Anne Paq/

Caption: A caterpillar bulldozer works on a new section of the Separation Wall in Shu’fat refugee camp near the new military terminal located at the entrance of the camp, East Jerusalem, December 27, 2011. The Wall and the new military terminal will separate more than 20,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents from East Jerusalem directly affecting their access to their schools, workplace and other facilities and institutions


(Quelle: Grassroot International.)

Israel: Die stille ethnische Säuberung

Dienstag, Mai 8th, 2012

“For Jerusalem’s Palestinians, Israeli ID policies cast a long shadow

For a growing number of Palestinians with Jerusalem ID papers, a trip overseas can mean the loss of their right to residency in their homeland.

By Hadani Ditmars

For me as for most citizens of independent states, the ability to study and work abroad while maintaining citizenship in one’s home country is unexceptional. But for a growing number of Palestinians with Jerusalem ID, a trip overseas can mean the loss of their right to residency in their homeland.

Consider the case of Tamam al Zobaidi, a woman whose family roots in Jerusalem span centuries. But half a world away, in Vancouver, Canada, the effects of an inequitable Israeli policy on Jerusalem identity papers are putting her and her family through a familiar ordeal.

Their new home is beginning to feel a lot like their old one, in some unexpected ways. The insecurity and lack of mobility that have become part of the Palestinian experience have followed them all the way to this far-flung corner of the Pacific. When I went to speak with her, Tamam, a 36-year-old chef and mother of two, said, “It feels strange to be confined now to my home and immediate neighborhood, but not unfamiliar.”

Since the middle of April, Tamam has joined thousands of her compatriots living in a Kafkaesque legal limbo. Without any travel documents or other ID, she is afraid to travel far from home, and can no longer work legally in Canada. She fears possible deportation, but cannot legally be deported without proper travel documents. “Where would I be deported to?” she wonders.

The life she and her family have become accustomed to since they moved to Vancouver in 2006 – with complete freedom of mobility, a thriving catering business, and her film-maker husband Sobhi’s successful doctoral work at Simon Fraser University – has been turned upside down. The relative stability they enjoyed has been replaced by constant fear and tension. When Tamam says, “We don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” thousands of other Palestinian Jerusalemites are thinking the same thing.

The family’s situation is not unique, but part of a deliberate Israeli policy where temporary residency abroad is erroneously deemed as a kind of landed immigrant status, resulting in the cancellation of Jerusalem IDs and a refusal to issue travel documents.  (According to Btselem in 2009, 707 Palestinians had their Jerusalem ID revoked for “relocation abroad”) Correspondingly, this mitigates any attempt at establishing permanent residency abroad, for fear of losing Jerusalem ID status – as was the case with Hanan Ashrawi’s daughter Zeina, and creates a perennial state of instability.

The al-Zobaidi family’s story began last October, when they went to renew the travel documents for Tamam and her 10 year old daughter, Kenza – who both hold Jerusalem IDs (Sobhi has a Palestinian Authority ID, while their youngest daughter Maleekah was born in Canada and holds Canadian citizenship). After 5 years of having their laissez-passers renewed by the consulate without issue, they were suddenly denied. The reason given was that the family owed $8000 U.S. of back taxes to the municipality of Jerusalem, for a house they last rented in 2005.

Rather than enter into a protracted bureaucratic battle to prove that it was the current tenants of the house, and not themselves, that owed the taxes, the al-Zobaidis opted to pay the tax via a lawyer in Jerusalem, and promptly sent the legal documents proving payment to the Israeli consulate in Toronto. They were told the matter would be resolved in a few days. It was not.

Faxes and repeated phone calls to the consulate led nowhere. Finally on January 19th 2012, they received a notice from Canadian immigration authorities threatening Tamam and her daughter Kenza with removal, unless they produced the necessary papers within 90 days. The family hired an immigration lawyer, whose pointed letter expressing the urgency of the situation met with complete silence.

As the April 19th deadline approached, Kenza was greatly distressed at the thought of leaving the school she had attended for years, and the family was caught in a nightmare of panic and worry. Then, at the 11th hour, on the day of the deadline, the Israeli consulate issued Kenza’s, but not Tamam’s, laissez-passer.

The reason? They did not say, but the family is convinced it was the result of a campaign by the progressive Jewish community in Vancouver (initially spear-headed by local rabbi and activist David Mivasair) who sent out a flurry of emails, faxes and letters to Canadian politicians and to the Israeli consulate and embassy in Ottawa. Unusually, they even received an email from the offices of Jason Kenney, the Canadian Minister of Immigration for the ruling Conservative Party, stating he had contacted the Israeli consulate himself.

The support of the progressive Jewish community in Canada was no small comfort to the al-Zobaidis. Sobhi says he was “overwhelmed” by the number of encouraging emails he received from supporters – even one who mentioned he had a cousin who worked at the consulate and would broach the issue with him.

However, until Tamam receives her laissez-passer, the fate of the al-Zobaidi family is still uncertain. They join the ranks of thousands of other Palestinians with Jerusalem ID, who are victims of an Israeli policy eager to eliminate the legal residency status of those who pursue higher education abroad or overseas employment possibilities unavailable to them at home.

Caught between the opportunity to improve their lot, and a desire to return to their homeland and contribute to it, these Palestinians find themselves in a legal no man’s land. It’s high time this kind of “bureaucratic cleansing” is revealed for what it is: yet another attempt by Israeli authorities to deny Palestinians their historical birthright.

But ironically, this policy may backfire – at least in Canada – as the denial of laissez-passers documents will only result in Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs being deported back to…Israel.

Hadani Ditmars is the author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone: a Woman’s Journey Through Iraq, and a past contributor to The Guardian and The New York Times. She is currently researching a political/familial travelogue about her relatives in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine called Lands of Light.” 



Israel: Noch Fragen?

Donnerstag, September 29th, 2011

Pchr ltd

“Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (22 – 28 Sep. 2011)


Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)


· A Palestinian civilian was killed and another 7 ones, including a child, were wounded by IOF in Qasra village, southeast of Nablus.


· IOF continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.


· OF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.

    - 18 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, and a French human rights defender were wounded.


· IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

    - IOF arrested 4 Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.


· Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.


· IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

    - IOF approved the construction of 1,100 housing units in “Gilo” settlement, south of occupied Jerusalem.

    - IOF confiscated 148 dunums[1] of land in Battir village, west of Bethlehem.

    - Israeli settlers burnt 590 trees.

    - Israeli settlers placed racist banners against Palestinians on the main roads in the West Bank.



Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law in the OPT continued during the reporting period (22 – 28 September 2011):



During the reporting period, IOF killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 25 others, including 7 children, and a French human rights defender in the West Bank.

On 23 September 2011, IOF killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another 7 ones, including a child, when they moved into Qasra village, southeast of Nablus, to provide protection to a group of Israeli settlers who raided Palestinian lands in the village

During the reporting period, IOF used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall in the West Bank. As a result, 18 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children, and a French human rights defender were wounded and dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders suffered from tear gas inhalation.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip. No fishermen were hurt, but Israeli naval troops confiscated and damaged some fishing nets.



During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 36 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they arrested 4 Palestinian civilians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who was arrested by an undercover unit from the yard of the ICRC office in Jerusalem.


Restrictions on Movement:

Israel had continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.


The full report is available online at:–28-sep-2011&catid=84:weekly-2009&Itemid=183


[1] One dunum is equal to 1,000 square meters.”


(Quelle: PCHR.)

Israel: Der grosse Bluff

Freitag, September 23rd, 2011

“A diplomatic bid to call Israel’s bluff

By David Gardner in London

The diplomatic crisis at the UN triggered by the Palestinians’ attempt to win recognition as a state may or may not advance their quest for justice and self-determination. But what it has started to do is strip away layer after layer of the cant and duplicity that has enveloped the so-called peace process.

The starting point for any consideration of the Palestinians’ diplomatic gambit is that the negotiations that appeared to promise so much after the 1993-95 Oslo accords have not ended the Israeli occupation of their land. Mahmoud Abbas, successor to the late Yassir Arafat as Palestinian president, has eschewed violence and staked everything on negotiations. He has nothing to show for it except the ruin of his reputation (…).”



(Quelle: Financial

UN: Leiterin der Nothilfe bekräftigt Rechte der PalästinenserInnen

Dienstag, Mai 17th, 2011

“oPt: ERC Amos calls for violence to end in the West Bank and Gaza

ERC Valerie Amos visited Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank on 15 May, a day of violent protest in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In Ramallah, Ms. Amos met with President Mahmoud Abbas and also with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The ERC reiterated the determination of the United Nations and the humanitarian community as a whole to continue to assist those in need in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in areas where the Palestinian Authority cannot fully operate. She expressed her support for the Palestinian Authority and reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, statehood, sovereignty and freedom from occupation.

Ms. Amos visited a school in Khan Al Ahmar, in the Al Jahalin Bedouin community in Area C. Area C comprises 60% of the West Bank but is still under full Israeli military and civilian control. The Al Jahalin school is scheduled for demolition, because the community have not been able to obtain a building permit due to restrictive and inadequate planning policies. Ms. Amos stressed that there can be no justification for depriving children of an education.

Palestinians are utterly frustrated by the impact of Israeli policies on their lives. They can’t move freely around their territory. They can’t plan their communities. They are evicted from their homes. Their homes are regularly demolished,” said Ms. Amos. “I don’t believe that most people in Israel have any idea of the way planning policies are used to divide and harass communities and families. They would not themselves like to be subjected to such behaviour.”

Also visiting the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, she met families evicted from their homes to make way for settler communities and saw first hand the impact of restrictive planning policies and the growing Israeli settler presence in the area. She also heard reports of increasing settler violence. With more than 1,000 Palestinian residents in Silwan currently threatened with displacement, people are living in an atmosphere of constant friction and tension. Silwan has been the centre of violent activities in recent days.

Commenting on Sunday’s events, Ms. Amos said, “I am extremely concerned at the level of violence today, and at the number of deaths and injuries in the region. The situation cannot continue in this way. It is innocent people who are losing their lives.”

More>> OCHA Press ReleaseOCHA oPt webiste – Report: ‘East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns’   [EnglishArabicHebrew]”


(Quelle: OCHA.)

Israel: Geplante Zerstörung palästinensischer Häuser bestätigt

Dienstag, Juni 22nd, 2010

“Jerusalem demolition plan approved

The Jerusalem planning committee has given initial approval to a proposal for demolishing 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighbourhood to make room for a tourist centre.

Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, requested approval for the controversial plan on Monday.

Palestinians describe the plan as “forced displacement”, but Barkat insists it would revitalise tourism in the neighbourhood.

Barkat first proposed the demolition months ago, but he shelved the plan in March under pressure from Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. Netanyahu asked Barkat to consult with the Palestinian families who would lose their homes.

A spokesman for Barkat said on Monday that the municipality had finished those consultations.

“Now, after fine-tuning the plan and seeking more co-operation with the residents… the municipality is ready to submit the plans for the first stage of approval,” Stephan Miller, Barkat’s spokesman, said.

The plan still must undergo several additional approvals before any demolitions take place. The Jerusalem planning committee is the municipal body responsible for approving all construction in the city.

‘Fast-track Judaisation’

Activists in Silwan denounced the latest move as another step in the “fast-track Judaisation” of East Jerusalem.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland last year interviewed Silwan families with homes slated for demolition

It pre-empts “the possibility of Jerusalem ever being a shared city, or indeed capital of a Palestinian state,” they said in a statement. “This in itself precludes peace.”

Several members of Meretz, a left-wing Israeli political party, threatened to resign their seats on Jerusalem’s city council over the announcement.

Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said the prime minister still wants more dialogue with the affected families.

“This is a preliminary planning procedure and it still gives time, more than enough time, for dialogue to continue,” he said.

PJ Crowley, a spokesman for the US state department, said the US government was “concerned” about the announcement.

“This is expressly the kind of step that we think undermines trust that is fundamental to making progress to the proximity talks and ultimately to direct negotiations,” Crowley said.

The Palestinian Authority has not yet commented on Monday’s decision. Muhammad Ishtayeh, a PA cabinet minister, said after the plan was announced in March that there was “no way” Palestinians could accept it.

The ‘King’s Garden’

The Palestinian homes targeted for demolition are in Silwan’s al-Bustan quarter, which Israel calls Gan Hamelech – the “King’s Garden” – because the biblical King David supposedly wrote his psalms in the neighbourhood.

The homes would be razed and replaced with a collection of shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community centre.

Israeli officials say the displaced families would be allowed to build new homes elsewhere in the neighbourhood – but haven’t said whether they will compensate those families for their losses.

Israeli officials say that all of the 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan are built illegally. It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain construction permits in East Jerusalem, so many families build their homes without the required paperwork.

Barkat’s proposal would allow residents of the other 66 Silwan homes – the ones not slated for demolition – to retroactively apply for construction permits, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post.

(Quelle: Al Jazeera.)