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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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Palestinian Communities in the Old City of Jerusalem Threatened with Shrinkage Due to Settlement Expansion, Properties Taken Over by Jewish Settlers, Israels Construction of the Apartheid Wall & Other Factors

 

A report issued by JCSERs Research & Documentation Unit accused the Israeli government of taking unprecedented measures to Judaize the city of Jerusalem through a number of projects and programs in which settlement societies, which are largely funded by the Israeli government and Jewish societies abroad, especially in the United States, Canada & Australia, take part in the implementation of these projects.

The report noted that the intensive, accelerating activity to Judaize East Jerusalem is currently focused in four main circles, of which the Old City constitutes its nucleus, reaching up to the governorates of Ramallah & Bethlehem.

First: The Old City: The report revealed amazing data about the volume of the settlement activity and the Judaization efforts carried out by Israeli government through the Jerusalem Municipality and Jewish settlement societies, including Ateret Kohanim, which is supported by the Israeli Ministry of Building & Housing. This is in addition to the efforts carried out by East Jerusalem Development Company and the Ministry of Archeology to Judaize the city of Jerusalem.

The report referred to the excavations carried out in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, spreading outside the walls of the Old City southwards in Silwan, and in different parts inside the wall, especially Burj Al-Laqlaq, Al-Wad Street, Bab Al-Khalil (Jaffa Gate), Bab Al-Asbat (Lion Gate) forming an advanced network of tunnels connected with more than 70 settlement nucleuses inside the Old City, ending up at the Al-Aqsa Mosque that constitutes the heart of the Old City.

In this context, the report referred to the completion of the construction of a Jewish synagogue at the crossroad of Al-Wad Street with the Wailing Wall, one of the largest Jewish synagogues inside Jerusalems walls. It is 50 meters far from the Al-Aqsa Mosque & Haram Ash-Sharif. The construction of another large Jewish synagogue adjacent to a mosque in Ash-Sharaf Quarter or known as the Jewish Quarter has begun.

There has been a remarkable increase in the number of Jewish settlers inside the walls of the Old City, either in the Jewish Quarter with a population of approximately 3,000 Jewish settlers, or in the settlement nucleuses (72) built by Jewish societies in Palestinian properties taken over by Jewish settlers. Part of these nucleuses includes Talmud Schools in which hundreds of religious schools students study.

With this settlement expansion, the report refers to the economic pressures and the expulsion of Palestinian residents of the Old City who suffer from extremely difficult living crisis due to the increasing unemployment and poverty rates, and the accumulation of debts and taxes, especially the Arnona municipal tax.

The report noted that merchants and shop-owners in the Old City are affect the most by the deteriorating economic conditions and the economic recession in the Holy City of Jerusalem. As a result, some 400 shop-owners, mostly in the markets of Ad-Dabagha, An-Nasara & Silseleh Street, have been forced to shut down, and turn into alternative crafts. The industry of tourism has directly been affected by the deteriorating situation.

The report estimates the volume of the tax debts imposed on the merchants of the Old City, such as income tax and Arnona at tens of millions of shekels. Hundreds of cases have been rejected by the Jerusalem Municipality, requesting citizens the payment of millions of shekels of Arnona Tax.

The report notes that a growing number of Palestinian Jerusalemites are expected to leave the Old City due to the housing crisis and the overcrowdedness that many Jerusalemite families suffer from. The crisis has been aggravated with the reverse return to the Old City over the past few years, due to the construction of the Apartheid Wall and the military checkpoints erected around Jerusalem, thus severely restricting the movement of citizens.

The report noted that over the past two months, there has been an increase in the number of Palestinians coming to the Old City in order to reside on the eve of the population census scheduled to start next month. This constituted another pressure on the residents and doubled the economic obligations for the people coming to reside inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, due to the sharp increase in the rents, resulting from the huge demand for the apartments and the sharp deterioration in the dollar.

The report attributed the severe housing crisis in the Old City to another factor, which is the Municipalitys policy to confront citizens attempts to expand and built, by imposing strict restrictions on them and on the renovation works. On the other hand, it allows religious and Jewish settlement societies to build and renovate, and approves the construction schemes to build small Jewish quarters inside the Old City of Jerusalem. Jewish Quarter planned to be built in Burj Al-Laqlaq, northern Al-Aqsa Mosque.

With regard to the Judaization plans carried out by the Israeli government in the surrounding of the Old City, especially in Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, Mt. of Olives, Jabal Al-Mukabber & Ath-Thori, the report noted that the national park project carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality in the surrounding of the Old City and the completion of Bab Ar-Rabab located between Silwan & Ath-Thori will become an area of tourist attraction.

In this regard, the report noted that the Jerusalem Municipality, in cooperation with Al-Ad Jewish settlement society & East Jerusalem Development Company are in the process of carrying out Al-Wad Street development project. The project is expected to enhance connection between settlement nucleuses (37) in Silwan and the Jewish Quarter inside the Old City and the Wailing Wall.

An Israeli scheme to build a Jewish quarter in the heart of Sheikh Jarrah was recently submitted to specialized committees in the Municipality for approval. It is expected that the quarter will spread to Qabaneh Um Haron, western Sheikh Jarrah, reaching up to Sanhadria, to the west of Street no. (1).

Some 400 settlement units will be built in Karm Al-Mufti and Sheppard Hotel area adjacent to the residences of Al-Kurd and the 27 families in Sheikh Jarrrah. The construction will start after the approval of the municipalitys specialized committees.

In the settlement quarter in Ras Al-Amud, known as Maiale Hazitim, the municipal committees are studying a scheme to expand the quarter and to build dozens of new apartments.

Meanwhile, the construction of another Jewish settlement quarter, known as Nof Zion continues on the skirts of Jabal Al-Mukabber, southern Old City. More than 200 settlement units are expected to be built, in addition to a group of hotels and restaurants, thus tightening the closure of the Old City and enhancing the Jewish presence inside the walls of the Old City. These quarters will be connected and turn Palestinian neighborhoods in the surrounding of the Old City into Cantons separated from each other.

The report referred to the increase in the pace of house demolition in East Jerusalem over the past two years. According to municipal data, some 72 houses have been demolished in different parts of Jerusalem since the beginning of 2008, while the actual number is 90 houses.

With regard to the Municipalitys policy of house demolition and building permits, further restrictions have been imposed on building permits, with doubling the penalties on building violators. During 2008 & 2007, hundreds of demolition orders have been given to Palestinian citizens. Hundreds of finds have been imposed on citizens accused of committing building violations, ranging between 50,000 shekels and 300,000 shekels.

On the other hand, there has been an intensive construction in the Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land, especially in the settlements of Pizgat Zeev, Neve Yacoub, Jabal Abu Ghneim and Maale Adumim. More than 4,000 new settlement units are being built in Maale Adumim, in addition to the construction of tourist and industrial zones, network of advanced roads and tunnels, and the railway project, which under construction. The railway is expected to connect the settlements of northern Jerusalem with the city center.

The report concludes that the Israeli projects currently taking place in an unprecedented manner will decide the demographic and political future of East Jerusalem. It warns that the Palestinian neighborhoods surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem are threatened with shrinkage, at the time more than 170,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites in the most-densely populated areas in Jerusalem (Ar-ram, Dahiet Al-Barid, Shufat Refugee Camp, Dahiet As-Salam & Ras Khamis) have completely been isolated by the construction of the Apartheid Wall.