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.
Since 2010, Israel has severely restricted access to the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, which lies northwest of Jerusalem, in order to prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem. Instead of building the Security Barrier along the Green Line in the area, Israel has chosen to deny villagers a normal routine, resulting in severe effects on employment, education, basic services and communal ties. The choice to impose these draconian measures reflects absolute prioritization of Israeli interests over the protection of local residents’ rights.
Muhyi a-Din a-Tabakhi, a 10-year-old boy from a-Ram, was critically injured by a black sponge round fired by Border Police. He died shortly after. The officers were pursuing youths who were throwing stones at them. A-Tabakhi is the second Palestinian killed by this type of ammunition and the latest in a long line of those injured by it. Black sponge rounds are dangerous and it has been found repeatedly that police officers use them in breach of regulations. Therefore, this ammunition cannot be considered a “non-lethal means” and its use must be limited to cases of mortal danger.
Of some 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel daily, 63,000 have permits and enter Israel via one of 11 checkpoints. In June, B’Tselem again documented the rough conditions at two checkpoints: 300 and Qalandia. Even in Ramadan, when workers fast all day, they are forced to leave for work in the dead of night, wait in long lines, and often sleep where they work and see their families only on weekends. This is not a necessary evil but a deliberate choice by the Israeli authorities. Whatever the reasons, it is unconscionable and unacceptable.
The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
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.