East Jerusalem: 6 Voices - Thaer Qirresh
14, a Palestinian from the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem.
What's the story?
Thaer used the camera to document his nuclear family’s life since a settler organization took over the building where the extended family had lived as tenants since the 1930s. The organization purchased the building from its Palestinian owners some 20 years ago, but the extended family’s right to continue living there as “protected tenants” is still being contested in court. In July 2010, before the court had given a decision on the matter, settlers took over all the apartments in the building apart from the one in which Thaer and his parents and siblings live.
The settlement enclaves in East Jerusalem surround the Old City Basin from the south, east, and north, and some of them are positioned on main roads leading to the Old City, enabling control of movement along these routes. Also, settlement enclaves have been established in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, with the objective of surrounding the Temple Mount.
The enclaves infringe the right of the local Palestinians to freedom of movement, privacy, and security. The settlers’ security guards intimidate the residents and limit their movement near the enclaves, even of children wanting to play near their homes. In buildings in which settlers live alongside Palestinians, the Palestinians’ movement is also restricted inside the buildings themselves. In addition, the police discriminate against Palestinians. When friction occurs between the two populations, they routinely protect only the rights of the settlers.
In this innovative project, B’Tselem and the Guardian gave six Palestinians and Israelis cameras to create video diaries of their lives in occupied East Jerusalem, under the shadow of the settlement enterprise. The diaries offer a glimpse into the impact of the volatile reality on their lives. This is one aspect of B’Tselem’s video project, in which the organization has given some 200 Palestinian families cameras to document violations of their rights.