Displacement: a daily reality in East Jerusalem

by Nancy and Malin from the Jerusalem team, 

Moving to a new place may sound exotic… unless one is forced to move. We have had the opportunity to visit several families who have experienced or are facing such a threat. Displacement is the name given to such an action and it violates several recognized human rights, such as the rights to adequate housing, food, water, health, education, work, security of the person, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and freedom of movement. [1]

For Bedouin families in Palestine displacement is a reality. In Al Eizariya, in East Jerusalem, we met Maryam, her sister and her four nieces. When Maryam was twelve they were forcibly moved to this permanent residence. Some of the women in the community attend university but the men find it difficult as it is not a part of their tradition. Having left behind the tending of animals and land, some men now work as cleaners in the nearby Israeli settlements. It is, however, a difficult life. Maryam offered tea while we planned future visits. As we left, the girls were eager to take photos with our cameras. They looked like budding journalists as they told us where to stand and they giggled loudly when they reviewed the photos they had taken on the phones and digital cameras.

21.12.15. Al Ezariyah, EAs from groups 58 and 59 with Bedouin children. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

21.12.15. East Jerusalem Al Ezariyah, EAs from groups 58 and 59 with Bedouin children. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

Jabal Al Baba Bedouin community is on land that has been allocated for the expansion of Israeli settlements. 

Another Bedouin community faces displacement on a daily basis. In Jabal Al Baba we visited with Attalah. As head of the family he greeted us and related that the family originally came from the Negev (1948), as do most Palestinian Bedouins. According to Attalah the community currently includes about 56 families with 300 people; they claim 170 dunams. Attalah said, “animals are our livelihood. It is harder now because of the settlements; we do not have enough land to keep our animals”. These settlements are illegal under international law, not only because they contribute to the forcible transfer of the protected people, the Palestinian population, but also because an occupying power is prohibited to transfer its own population to the occupied territory.

31.10.15. East Jerusalem. Jabal al Baba communtiy in foreground and the settlement Maali Adumim in bakground. Photo EAPPI/S. Magnusson

31.10.15. East Jerusalem. Jabal al Baba Bedouin community in foreground and the settlement Ma’ale Adumim in background. Photo EAPPI/S. Magnusson

Jabal Al Baba sits on a hilltop near the settlement Ma’ale Adumim. According to Attalah, part of the land was given to the Pope by the King of Jordan in 1964 and is now owned by the Vatican. However, the Israeli government has not hesitated to extend its plan for “greater Jerusalem” to this area. Attalah told us that in 2014 the Israeli authorities demolished sixteen houses in the area. All the houses now standing have demolition orders.

In addition to demolitions and restricted land use, the authorities plan to construct the wall around the community; this would cut Jabal Al Baba off from the surrounding areas. Attalah mentioned that the families have good contact with organizations from the EU to help with road access and electricity.

21.12.15 East Jerusalem, Jabal Al Baba, Atallah and his son. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

21.12.15 East Jerusalem, Jabal Al Baba, Atallah and his son. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

House demolitions continue in Sheikh Jarrah

In East Jerusalem live the Amro brothers whose house was partially demolished in March 2015. According to the brothers, soldiers arrived early in the morning and started breaking in doors. The family stated that they had received no order for demolition. When the brothers asked why this demolition was happening, the leader said, “We have an order”. When he showed them the paper, it was blank. The demolition continued and supporters of the family were prevented from coming to their aid. According to Nurreddin Amro, there is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the family’s residence because the house was built prior to 1967 and the area is protected by an agreement with the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the fund that manages Al Aqsa.

21.12.15. Sheikh Jarrah, Children playing on demolition site. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

21.12.15. Sheikh Jarrah, Children playing on demolition site. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho

Demolitions continue on an almost daily basis. Consider the one in Sheikh Jarrah, also in East Jerusalem, on December 16, 2015. A mother and her five children found themselves without shelter. According to the mother when the soldiers and bulldozer came she asked if she could get clothes for her children. The soldiers denied her this and the family was left without basic necessities. Shortly after, the house was a pile of rubble under a layer of earth. Several days later, EAPPI volunteers visited the family. The mother and her children were living in a one-room metal structure next door to their original home. It appeared they had no warm clothes or toilet facilities. The mother, when asked about priorities, said the children need clothes as the weather is getting colder and rains are frequent.

These families live in different areas yet they all face the threat of displacement. They are only a few examples of the thousands of Palestinians who are left without certainty regarding one of the most basic human rights: a roof over one’s head.

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More information:

Peace Now: Israel seeking to revive E1 construction plans

Mondoweiss: Israel orders new demolitions for Bedouin community located in strategic Jerusalem corridor

Press Release: UN Officials call for an immediate demolitions freeze in the West Bank

B’Tselem: Civil Administration continues demolition sweep: 14 Bedouin families left homeless in the Ma’ale Adumim area today

UNOCHA: Bedouin Communities at Risk of Forcible Transfer

B’Tselem: The E1 Plan and its Implications for Human Rights in the West Bank

Interactive map on B’Teslem’s “Facing Expulsion” live blog

Video: Nowhere left to go a documentary about the impending displacement of Bedouin refugees in the Jerusalem Periphery area.

2 thoughts on “Displacement: a daily reality in East Jerusalem

  1. Pingback: Displacement: a daily reality in East Jerusalem | in the West Bank

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