East Jerusalem: 6 Voices - Zuheir a-Rajabi
40,a Palestinian from the village of Silwan, south of the Old City of Jerusalem
What's the story?
Settlers have taken over two buildings in Zuheir’s street, which lies at the heart of Silwan, a densely populated Palestinian village. Their presence gives rise to daily conflict with local residents, who are already stifled by the Jerusalem Municipality’s policy of demolition orders, planning restrictions, and severe neglect. Zuheir decided to set up CCTV cameras around his home to document the frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and security forces
Why is Silwan so important?
Like so many parts of East and West Jerusalem, the village of Silwan is located on a site that bears religious and historical significance. According to the Bible, this valley is the very area where King David walked some 3,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the rich archeological discoveries in the area are being used as a political tool to oust Palestinians. This is exactly what Yonathan Mizrahi works to expose.
Riots erupt in Silwan
On 22 September 2010, several Palestinians threw stones at a settlers’ security guard driving along Silwan’s main street. The guard shot and killed Samer Sarhan, who was among the stone-throwers. According to the media, the guard said he had feared for his life as his exit path had been blocked. Zuheir’s cameras put this claim in doubt: in footage aired on a central Israeli news channel, they captured the guard driving quickly away from the scene, his path free. The police opened an investigation into the killing and confiscated Zuheir’s computer, including all his video footage, with no explanation. The following weeks saw riots in Silwan and violence by Israeli security forces.
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.