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Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

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Annual Narrative Report (2008)

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Jerusalem Center for Social & Economic Rights (JCSER)

Annual Report 2008

01 January 2008 - 31 December 2008

Introduction:

The year 2008 reported further escalation in Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian Jerusalemites at all levels. Violations included residents' social and economic rights, or their rights to residency, housing and freedom of movement, attacks on residents' private property, and denial of their basic rights. This is in addition to creating new policies and measures against the Palestinian presence in the city, as part of a systematic, programmed campaign of Israel's Judaization of Jerusalem.

With the increase in the volume of Israeli violations, the Center's various units, especially the Legal Unit, continued, during the first half of the year, to follow up on (312) cases, of which (70) are new and (242) were taken on during the years 2006 & 2007.

The following table shows the distribution of cases by type of case: Table (1)
Type of Case2008
House Demolitions & Building Violations 60
National Insurance44
Family Reunification & ID Card60
Arnona Municipal Tax71
Child Registration3
Miscellaneous 4
Total 242

 

 

The following table shows the number of new cases received by the Center during 2008, distributed according to type of case: Table (2)
Type of Case2008
Arnona Municipal Tax13
House Demolitions & Building Violations 28
Family Reunification & ID Card13
National Insurance14
Child Registration2
Total 70

During the reporting period, the Center documented a series of Israeli measures and violations, most importantly:

I. Escalation Measures: JCSER's legal unit documented new violations and unprecedented measures by the West Jerusalem Municipality (WJM) and the National Insurance Institute (NII) aiming at:

Controlling the remaining Jerusalemite institutions;
Chasing hundreds of Palestinian families living outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem in an attempt to withdraw their social and economic rights;
Denying their rights to residency in Jerusalem, and their basic rights to medical treatment and their entitlements and allowances from the National Insurance Institute (child, disability, old age allowances etc).

The Legal Unit prepared a special report on these new measures, including forming institutions affiliated with the Jerusalem Municipality parallel to Palestinian institutions concerned with defending the rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites. It should be noted that a large number of these institutions suffer from financial difficulties and severe restrictions imposed by Israel on their activities. As a result, they are threatened with closure. One example was the closure of the 'Orient House' and dozens of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem.

With regard to the new trends of the National Insurance Institute, the report noted that what is remarkable about these trend is that the National Insurance announced, for the first time, its need for investigators to work in East Jerusalem, and in areas (B) & (C) in the West Bank with the aim of chasing hundreds of Jerusalemite families living outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, and in some cities of the West Bank, especially Bethlehem and Hebron. Such measure was not previously announced, despite the fact that special investigator companies were previously and continue to be responsible for investigating thousands of files of Palestinian Jerusalemites living outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.

The report highlights the fact that asking investigators to work in Jerusalem and inside the West Bank means that a new campaign of chasing Palestinian Jerusalemites will start with the deployment of investigator teams in these areas. A large-scale campaign will be conducted against Palestinians who many of them were forced to move outside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem due the housing crisis in Jerusalem and the reasonable rents in the West Bank. The minimum and maximum range of rents within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem is between $600 and $1,200 a month. Consequently, these families will be denied health and social entitlements and allowances, especially health insurance, child and old age benefits.

II. Israeli Judicial Apparatus:

On the other hand, the Legal Unit documented trends related to the Israeli judicial system. The Center called on Palestinian Jerusalemites to be careful with the Israeli judicial apparatus with regard to issues related to real estates and confiscation of Palestinian land for settlement activities and the construction of the Apartheid Wall.

The Legal Unit noted that our previous experience with the judicial apparatus indicated, in many cases, indicate the partiality of the Israeli judicial apparatus in favor of the Israeli official institution through:
Giving a legal character to some decisions taken by the Israeli institution; or
Issuing court rulings in favor of settlement societies that lead the campaign of taking over Palestinian property and real estates in the Old City or Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood located southeast Jerusalem's Old City.

The Center urged Palestinian institutions concerned with supporting the steadfastness of Palestinian Jerusalemites to look for other alternatives and options to maintain and preserve citizens' property and real estates. Alternatives include provision of necessary legal and engineering assistance and recruitment of the local press media on raising awareness among Palestinians of what is threatening their property and real estates.The report noted that the last campaign of taking over Palestinians' real estates in Silwan represents the beginning of a new stage of:
Controlling more real estates, especially in 'Wadi Hilweh';
Trying to change the geographic reality in the Israeli so-called area the 'Holy Basin Area', adjacent to the Old City, and includes in addition to Silwan, Ath-Thori and Ras Al-Amoud neighborhoods;
Expanding the range of the settlement presence to also include nearby neighborhoods in Jabal Al-Mukabber, Mt. of Olives, Asswaneh, and Sheikh Jarrah.

 

In this context, the report referred to Israel's commencement of the construction of some 60 settlement units in the Jewish settlement of "Ma'ale Zeitim" in Ras Al-Amud, the ongoing infrastructure works in a new settlement built on Jabal Al-Mukabber - southern Old City, known as "Nov Zion", and the commencement of the infrastructure works in a new settlement, west of Abu Dis, known as "Kidmat Zion".

The expansion of the area of the Jewish demographic presence around the Old City was proposed a few years ago by Former Israeli Minister of Tourism Beni Alon. He proposed the construction of a belt of 17 settlement blocks around the Old City. The belt spreads from Sheikh Jarrah and 'Bet Orot" on Mt. of Olives, reaching up to Ras Al-Amud. These areas have been turned into attraction sites for settlement societies funded by the American-Jewish Millionaire, Irving Moscovitch.

According to JCSER's data, there has been, during the last year, a remarkable increase in the number of Jewish settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem and Silwan, combined with further control of real estates in

these two areas.

Only in the Old City, there are around 3,000 Jewish settlers. They are distributed in the Jewish Quarter and in some 70 real estates that have been seized over the last few years. In Silwan, there are around 400 Jewish settlers in more than 40 real estates that have been seized, in addition to around 110 families currently living in the Jewish settlement of "Ma'ale Zeitim" in Ras Al-Amud, 10 families in Sheikh Jarrah, and around 200 students in "Bet Orot" in Mt. of Olives.

On the other hand, settlement societies started to implement a new method of taking over real estates and houses in neighborhoods adjacent to the Old City. Local people are entrusted with the duty of adding multi-storey buildings on existing ones. Once the construction is completed, the buildings are handed over to these societies. One example was what happened last year in the neighborhoods of Silwan and Ras Al-Amud.

III. Judaization of Important Sites in the Old City of Jerusalem:

JCSER's Media & Research Unit documented the new campaign carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality, aimed at Judaizing important sites and locations in Silwan, southeast Jerusalem's Old City, through giving Hebrew names on these sites.

The Unit referred to announcements published by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Transportation under the title of "Development Works in Silwan", combined with a detailed map of the sites included in the development process. The names of the sites were replaced by Hebrew names.

The Unit confirmed that changing the names of these sites to Hebrew names is an old policy adopted by the successive municipalities. It started in the Old City of Jerusalem where streets and allies were given Hebrew names, even Islamic sites, most importantly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, known as the "Mount of Temple".

The new campaign points out the volume of changes that Israelis try to create on the ground in Jerusalem, either through settlement, taking over real estates, or giving Hebrew names to neighbors and sites in the suburbs adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem.


IV. Increase in the Pace of Racial Incitement:

The Center followed up with deep concern the increasing inciting calls made by Israel officials, including ministers and Knesset members (KM), demanding an escalation in the measures and violations against Palestinian Jerusalemites in the wake of the armed attack on Yeshiva in West Jerusalem, in which eight Israelis were killed.

The Center expressed deep concern over the calls made by Israeli officials, including ministers and Knesset members (KM), demanding that strict measures be taken against Palestinian Jerusalemites in the aftermath of the attack.


The Center referred to calls made by some of these officials demanding that Jerusalemite neighborhoods be taken out from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, residency status withdrawn from Palestinian Jerusalemites, and be evacuated to the West Bank. Additionally, some officials demanded that strict restrictions be imposed on citizens' movement, and censorship system be activated related to their movement between East & West Jerusalem.The Center noted that such measures mean:

Mass transfer and violations of individuals' basic rights to residency and housing, thus paving the way for even more strict measures that threaten the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem;
Imposition of collective punishment on an entire community, thus constituting a violation of the International Humanitarian Law.

V. Jerusalem Municipality's Cards:

The Center followed up West Jerusalem Municipality's decision to issue special cards for the Arab residents of East Jerusalem for symbolic fees carrying the name of 'Jerusalemite'.

The Center warned that such cards have political connotations, especially that obtaining the card depends on a series of requirements. These include proving the residency right in Jerusalem, namely within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. The residents of the suburbs and neighborhoods that have been separated by the 'Apartheid Wall' will not obtain these cards, thus strengthening the separation policy for the residents of these suburbs, with a total population of over 100,000.

The card grants reductions to its holders as published in the local press media. This card grants reductions in the fields of education, culture, festivals, various exhibitions, visiting museums, and attending sport and musical festivals. Is that what the Jerusalemite citizen, who is being chased by the Municipality's traffic police and threatened with his residency and housing right, demolition orders and building violations, needs?'

The issuing of these cards means that the Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with other Israeli departments, has begun an undeclared campaign to conduct census for the Palestinian Jerusalemites. This step, concurred with several other procedures, has political dimensions. Procedures include intensification in the settlement construction, taking over more Palestinian property, and launching a campaign to build public gardens around the Old City, especially in Silwan and Ath-Thori.

VI. Excavations in Old City of Jerusalem:
JCSER's Media & Documentation unit warned of Israel's ongoing excavations currently taking place under the buildings in the Old City, especially those adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. A special report prepared by the unit revealed that large-scale excavations are taking place around the clock in different areas of Jerusalem's Old City, especially in Al-Atarin market, As-Silsileh Street, Al-Qatanin market, Al-Wad Street, and along Al-Burak Tunnel under Al-Omariyeh School reaching up to Bab Al-Asbat (Gate of the Tribes) where excavations are taking place under dozens of these buildings.

The report highlighted that what is going on is a wide network of excavations that led to the construction of large tunnels and areas.

The report noted that local and foreign workers of various nationalities are working around the clock on the excavations underground. The soil and stones are taken out from the excavation areas through small tractors outside the walls of the Old City.

 

The report expressed concern over the excavation works taking place in the Old City. They might be a preliminary step to evacuate a string of buildings and real estates in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the pretext that the are 'dangerous, unsafe buildings'. Excavations are taking place at a time severe restrictions are imposed by the Jerusalem Municipality on renovation and maintenance of buildings and real estates inside the Old City of Jerusalem.

During previous periods, the Center documented excavation works carried out by settlement societies in the Old City, causing cracks in citizens' property. One example was what happened with the Fityani's real estate in Al-Qatanin Market. This incident was preceded by attempts by Jewish settlers to infiltrate some real estates through excavations carried out in the settlement blocks they occupy.

VII. Preventing Public Activities:

Israeli occupation forces prevented Palestinian Jerusalemites from holing activities, celebrations and Palestinian gatherings - political, social or religious, despite the fact that they are peaceful. They also closed PNA offices and institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem. Following are examples of activities prevented by Israel during 2008:

- Preventing the annual celebration for the higher council against protection from social problems on 01/01/2008;- Closing Hamas affiliated office on 04/02/2008;- Preventing Palestinian Jerusalemites from setting up a condolence tent for the Late George Habash, Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) on 04/02/2008;- Closing the Jerusalem Center, affiliated with Hamas on 12/02/08;- Arresting five Palestinians who discovered excavations underneath their houses on 12/02/08;- Extending Israels closure decision of PNA organizations and institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem on 16/02/08;- Preventing Beit Hanina Sport Club from holding a festival against the drawings against Prophet Mohammad on 23/02/08;- Attacking volunteers in Al-Aqsa Mosque on 03/06/08;- Preventing a cultural event in Jerusalem on 25/03/08;- Preventing celebration on the Palestinian Prisoners Day on 20/04/08;

- Preventing Head of the Labor Union from entering Jerusalem to celebrate the Labor Day although he has entry permit on 30/04/08.

Israeli violations continued in the second half of the year. More Palestinian families were denied their residency rights, real estates taken over, Palestinian houses demolished etc. JCSERs various units, especially its legal unit, followed up on these violations and warned of their consequences through issuing various reports and press releases in the local newspapers. The reports included important information on the nature of these violations. A report was issued on the long-term demographic, political and humanitarian implications resulting from the Israeli Supreme Courts decision on the construction of the Wall around Shufat refugee camp, Ras Khamis and Dahiet As-Salem. According to the decision, more than 30,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites will be taken out from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.

The court decision will reduce the population structure in Jerusalem by more than 30,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites living in these three areas. This means that they will lose their basic human rights, including their social and economic rights. Further restrictions will be imposed on thousands of citizens, including employees and school students. This constitutes an introduction to taking out this huge population sector from the Palestinian geography in Jerusalem.

The implications of the court decision will appear on the ground following the completion of the construction of the Apartheid Wall. He referred to the preparations currently taking place to turn the military checkpoint on the entrance of the refugee camp to a border crossing point, as in Qalandia crossing point.

On the other hand, the Center followed up the state of confusion and chaos amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites after the Interior Ministrys teams raided citizens houses in different parts of the city to conduct a random census for the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

Following its occupation of Jerusalem, Israeli occupation authorities conducted censes in the city of Jerusalem. Following the census, blue ID cards were granted to those who have been included in the census (66,000 persons). According to these cards, Palestinians are granted the right to permanent residency in their city.

Israels 1950 Absentee Property Law was applied to every Jerusalemite who was absent during the census. The law stipulates that the property of such an absentee would be transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property, with no possibility of appeal of compensation. In addition, Palestinians who were absent are not allowed to enter the city unless after obtaining a special permit from the Israeli authorities. Such permits are granted only to those who havent committed any security violations - according to Israeli interpretations. Moreover, around 30,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites who live in the surrounding villages of Jerusalem have not been granted the right to residency in the city. As a result, thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites have lost the right to return to their city.

Expected Impact of the Census

In addition to the state of confusion and chaos that the census may create amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites due to the failure of the Israeli official parities to provide adequate information about the census and its objectives, the census is expected to cause numerous problems amongst Jerusalemites, most importantly include:

Housing:

It is a well-known fact that Palestinian Jerusalemites suffer from a severe housing crisis due to the Municipalitys policies and measures, ignoring the importance of laying down structural plans for the Arab neighborhoods, in addition to placing numerous obstacles in the way of Arab construction in the city.

Palestinian Jerusalemites suffer from the exorbitant costs required for issuing building licenses. Building half a dunum e.g. cost 109,492 shekels, including file opening and payment of various taxes. Palestinians, of whom 67% live under poverty line according to municipal data, and due to the vital need for housing given the natural growth of population, have been forced to build without obtaining building licenses from the Jerusalem Municipality. According to municipal data, around 15,000 Arab apartments are not licensed, while 38.2% apartments out of the total number of apartments owned by Arabs (33,638) are licensed according to the 2004 Jerusalem statistical yearbook.

The total area allocated by the Jerusalem Municipality for the Arab construction in Jerusalem is limited, given the fact that Palestinians in Jerusalem (with a total population of 230,000) need around 28,000 housing units by the year 2020.

Huge building fines are imposed on Palestinian Jerusalemites, reaching up to 93,304,743.7 shekels between the years 2001 and 2005. The Jerusalem Municipality allocates the amount of 2.5 million shekels of its budget for the demolition of Arab houses in East Jerusalem.

Moreover, the Jerusalem Municipality adopts a systematic policy of restricting Arab construction in the city, while it encourages Jewish construction. Amir Heshen, Former Jerusalem Mayors Advisor Tedy Colic, said in a book entitled (Separated & Unequal, the Internal Story of Israels Ruling in East Jerusalem): Colics 1970 plan included the principles on which housing policy is still based - confiscation of land owned by Palestinians, development of large Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and restriction of development in Palestinian neighborhoods.

The census may force many Palestinians, especially those living behind the Apartheid Wall to return to Jerusalem to be included in the census in their sought to maintain their residency right in Jerusalem. Some will be forced to rent apartments or to live with their relatives in Jerusalem, thus increasing the pressure and the demand for housing. This will raise the rents, currently ranging between $500 and $800, thus contributing to aggravating the economic crisis amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites.

According to the Documentation & Research Units data, the population crowdedness accompanied by an increase in poverty levels and unemployment rates amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites, of whom the youth sector constitutes the largest portion, will contribute to emerging numerous social problems in the city.

It is also expected that numerous problems may arise about property in the city or disputes between tenants and landowners who some of them resort to Israeli courts to obtain evacuation court orders as currently taking place.

With regard to taking over real estates owned by Palestinian Jerusalemites, the Legal Unit followed up the developments of the Kurd Family. The Israeli Supreme Courts recent decision turning down the petition submitted by the Kurd Family against its evacuation pave the way for even more dangerous measures against 28 other Palestinian families living in the neighborhood threatened with evacuation if the court decision is implemented.

The case of these families started in 1972 when the Israeli Supreme Court decided at that time to confirm the ownership of the land on which these houses were built in favor of an Israeli synagogue. In fact, these houses were built in the early fifties in accordance with an agreement between the UNRWA and the Jordanian Ministry of Construction at that time.

The report warned that taking control over these houses, under a cover by the Supreme Court, paves the way for controlling other real estates in Palestinian neighborhoods, such as Silwan and Mt. of Olives. This was what really happened when the Kurd Family real estate was taken over after its evacuation by force.

According to the report, a scheme of 250 new settlement units in Sheikh Jarrah was submitted to the Municipality's specialized committees for its approval. This settlement construction, if actually built in the heart of Sheikh Jarrah, is regarded as one of a series of settlement neighborhoods that former Minister of Tourism Beni Alone proposed to build to surround the Old City. Some of them were built, such as the settlement neighborhood in Ras Al-Amud, known as 'Ma'ale Zeitim' and 'Nof Zion' in Jabal Al-Mukabber. Preparations are underway to build another settlement known as 'Kidmat Zion' in the western edge of Abu Dis and overlooks Jabal Al-Mukabber and Silwan.

With regard to the right of Palestinian Jerusalemites right to residency, the Center warned of the implications of the Knesset Internal Committee's approval of a draft law allowing the Interior Ministry to confiscate the citizenship or residency status of Palestinian Jerusalemites accused of committing security violations under the Israeli (pro-terrorism violations, membership in a terrorist organization, spying & treason.)

Such measure will grant the Israeli Interior Minister wide, unprecedented authorities to revoke the residency right of Palestinian Jerusalemites targeted by the Israeli Interior Ministry for security reasons. The Center warned of the gravity of adopting the objections of the Israeli General Security Services (Shabak) or Shin Bet, which calls for the withdrawal of citizenship by an administrative order claiming that the law complicates the procedures related to the withdrawal of citizenship.

Granting the Shabak some of the Interior Minister's authorities, or submitting recommendations to the Interior Minister with regard to the withdrawal of the residency status or citizenship from people accused of carrying out suicide attacks may lead to arbitrary use of this law, which is only adopted in Israel.

Settlement: The Center warned of the demographic implication of the Israeli decision to expand Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land in Jabal Abu Ghneim, southern Jerusalem, and Maale Adumim to the east of Jerusalem.

The construction of hundreds of new settlement units in the Jewish settlements may double the number of Jewish settlers in return of taking around 10,000 Palestinians out from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. This means that the number of Palestinian Jerusalemites will be reduced from 300,000 to 200,000 as a first stage, followed by additional reduction upon the completion of the Apartheid Wall.

Israels decision to freeze the construction of thousands of settlement units in the industrial zone of Atarot is formal, given the fact that the infrastructure for these units has been completed two months ago. Large areas near Qalandia Airport have been leveled for this purpose.

The Center warned of the frequent attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the opening of a Jewish synagogue, the largest in the Old City, thus leading to clashes between hundreds of Talmud schools and Palestinian Jerusalemites whose houses and shops have been attacked during marches organized by Jewish groups.

The Center underestimated the procedures and steps taken by the Israeli police to prevent attacks by extremist Jewish groups against Palestinian Jerusalemites. Hundreds of censorships cameras have been deployed by Israeli police, but failed to grab attackers. On the other hand, Israeli policy arrested Jerusalemite youths accusing of throwing stones or carrying out suicide attacks. Such cases are dealt with double standards. When the victim is Jewish, the censorship cameras dont function. Israeli police rush into capturing Palestinian Jerusalemites shot by these cameras while carrying out a suicide attack or throwing stones.

The Center expresses its concern over the escalation in the Jewish attacks against Palestinian Jerusalemites. An insane action perpetrated by individuals or small groups against the holy places, especially Al-Aqsa Mosque or against citizens in crowded markets is expected in light of Israels total failure to take action against perpetrators.