On 7 May 2017, Fatimah Hjeiji, 16, approached a metal barrier near Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem. Hjeiji stopped, stood, and brandished a knife at 5 police officers on the other side of the barrier, who then fatally shot her. The Police District Commander called the shooting legal and appropriate, ignoring the facts of the case which indicate Hajij posed no threat to the officers. The continued policy of fatally shooting Palestinians who do not pose a mortal danger illustrates the discrepancy between accepted norms prohibiting such use and frequent shoot-to-kill incidents which are encouraged by senior officials and public sentiment.
The neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa in the heart of Silwan, East Jerusalem, is the setting for the largest expulsion in recent years in the city, a process supported by the Israeli government and courts. Click on the figures to enter the neighborhood’s story.
In 2016 B’Tselem documented a record number of home demolitions by Israeli authorities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, citing illegal construction as a pretext. Israel demolished 88 homes in East Jerusalem and 274 in the rest of the West Bank, while denying Palestinians any possibility of building legally in these areas. This policy, upheld by all state authorities, severely violates the most fundamental human rights of Palestinians and offers decisive evidence as to Israel’s long-term plans: continued control of the area, while oppressing and dispossessing its residents.
On Sunday 8 Jan. 2017 Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, of Jabal al-Mukabber, carried out a ramming attack at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade in Jerusalem, killing 4 soldiers and injuring 13. Israeli authorities have since adopted punitive measures against his extended family and other locals. Collective punishment and administrative measures against Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are an acknowledged Jerusalem Municipality policy and the mayor boasts of it. While the policy is overt, this does nothing to detract from its being wrongful and involving widespread persecution by the authorities of thousands of Jerusalem residents.
The neighborhood of Batan al-Hawa, East Jerusalem, is the site of the vastest dispossession effort being planned in the city. The neighborhood’s children and teenagers are hardest hit by the friction with settlers, police and security guards. Testimonies gathered by B’Tselem paint a grim picture of minors being held or detained, often with security forces employing violence and acting in a demeaning manner.
B’Tselem mapped the processes underway in Batan al-Hawa, which is facing the most extensive dispossession in East Jerusalem in recent years. Israeli authorities have already transferred 9 of its roughly 50 parcels to the Ateret Cohanim association, and settlers have moved in to 5. Eviction claims are pending against 81 Palestinian families who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Residents are also subjected to other types of pressure. Settler presence brings with it the police, the Border Police and private security guards; they regularly use violence against local residents, including live fire and crowd control measures, threats, arresting minors and disrupting the fabric of life.
The Batan al-Hawa neighborhood in East Jerusalem is densely built; its streets are narrow alleys, often only 2-3 meters wide. Local Palestinians told B’Tselem that they have found it hard to maintain a normal routine ever since settlers moved in in 2004. A shuttle service used by settlers and security guards blocks the street several times a day, for 15 minutes to an hour at a time, even though settlers have use of an adjacent parking they seized. The conduct of the settlers and private security guards, backed by official Israeli security personnel, makes it difficult for residents to get to work and school on time, and for businesses to get supplies.
Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, is the setting for the largest expulsion in recent years in E. J’alem. Supported by Israeli authorities, the Ateret Cohanim assoc., that already has 6 buildings in the neighborhood, plans to evict 81 Palestinian families. On top of facing discrimination in funding and services throughout E. J’alem, Batan al-Hawa residents must also fight for the right to live in their homes, due to efforts by the authorities and settler associations to cement Jewish presence in and around Jerusalem’s Old City. There are already 2,800 settlers living in these Palestinian neighborhoods, leading to increased presence of official and private security forces, who also use violence against local residents, and disrupt life in an area that is home to 100,000 Palestinians.
In July 2016 Israel demolished 13 homes in Qalandia al-Balad, close to the Separation Barrier. Since Qalandia and other neighborhoods were cut off by the Barrier, the Jerusalem Municipality has virtually halted the supply of municipal services and rarely enforces building laws. As a result, Palestinians from East Jerusalem have been attracted to the area. In a rare exception to its usual policy, the Jerusalem Municipality has decided to provide a service in the area: house demolitions.
On 27 Sept. 2016, Israel demolished 22 structures, half of them homes, in five West Bank communities: in the northern Jordan Valley, near Ma’ale Adumim, the South Hebron Hills, and East Jerusalem. This left 56 Palestinians, including 30 minors, homeless. The authorities also demolished water cisterns, livestock pens, and part of a school. This is part of a massive demolition campaign to pressure Palestinians to leave Area C that has, since the beginning of 2016, left 1,010 people homeless, including 530 minors.
Israel’s regime of 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.