Yesterday, Occupation Forces started construction on the Apartheid Wall on the eastern side of Anata; Occupation plans are to turn Anata into a canton linking between the northern and southern Palestinian ghettos which will be created by the Wall. Anata will be surrounded by the Wall from all sides, together with the Shu’fat Refugee Camp and Dahiyat Assalam. Occupation Forces are also constructing a bypass road that will go from Anatot settlement and link with the new highway 45 leading to the Jordan Valley. Another road will connect Za’im village with Anata and link the Wall’s southern ghetto (consisting of southeast Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron) to the northern ghetto. Large areas of Anata’s land will be confiscated or destroyed in the process of constructing Walls and bypass roads in this area. The Wall and bypass roada will separate Anata from its eastern lands, which constitute the majority of the village’s lands, but is now the place where the “New Anatot” or so-called “Anatot Hadasha” is planned to link between the military camp and Anatot settlement.
Anata is located northeast of Jerusalem and has a population of 15,000 Palestinians, in addition to another 12,000 who are living in Dahyat Asslam, a residential area built on Anata’s lands. According to Occupation Forces, Anata is designated to be part of the West Bank, while Dahyat Asslam, and Shufat refugee camp are considered to be part of Jerusalem, despite the fact that there is no clear boundary between them. For example, part of one house may be considered ‘West Bank’ according to Occupation Forces, while other parts of the same house would be considered to be in ‘Jerusalem’. After the Oslo accords, Anata was divided into areas B and C, leaving the biggest proportion of their lands outside of area B.
The village has a land area of 34,750 dunums and is considered to be one of the largest Palestinian villages, with its lands reaching to Jericho. However, of this, only 9570 dunums were included in area B, and many of Anata’s lands were confiscated for the settlement of Almon to the east. Furthermore, an Occupation military camp was established on the village’s lands very close to the houses, isolating the village from the majority of its lands.
The Wall in this area will isolate Dahiyat Assalam and the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, where more than thirty thousand Jerusalemites live. By isolating these people, it will facilitate the Zionist goal of reducing the number of Palestinians in Jerusalem. In an effort to protest their separation from Jerusalem, several people, mainly from Dahyat Assalam and Shu’fat Refugee Camp, brought their case to the Occupation court. Officials from the US consulate and the Occupation government tried to persuade the people that the Wall’s path could be negotiated, proposing a path whereby both the camp and Dahyat Assalam will stay in Jerusalem. In this case, however, the Wall will run directly though the middle of Anata, cutting between the houses, and at certain points, even through parts of the houses. This “alternative” plan would leave one third of Anata residents outside of the village, in Jerusalem, while knowing that many of these people will not have the right identification cards to enable them to stay and move around in Jerusalem.
Land, however, is not the only thing that the Apartheid Wall targets in Anata. Since it is one of the largest Palestinian villages, it has good urban expansion potential. Over the last ten years, Anata has turned into one of the biggest Palestinian suburbs, which is particularly undesirable to Occupation Forces. Anata, being just a few kilometers from Jerusalem, and at the same time having lands reaching up until the Jordan Valley, should never be, according to the Occupation, an expanded Palestinian suburb. The urban growth in Anata is a threat to the “judaization” of the area and in general, isolating Anata from its lands is important to limit its expansion potential and to allow smooth Israeli movement and control in the Jordan Valley.
***image4***Thus, Occupation Forces have used house demolitions and other means to try and stop this growth, a strategy which is ongoing. Anata could be one of the most affected Palestinian neighborhoods around Jerusalem, in addition to Mukaber, which suffers from house demolitions, with 3 to 5 homes being demolished at a time on some days. Almost from all sides of Anata, there are houses that are threatened with demolition, all under the same pretext of being built in area C, where a permit from Occupation Forces is required in order to build. At least 3 houses are currently threatened with demolition and a Bedouin tribe that lives to the east of the Shu’fat Refugee Camp has been demanded to leave and evacuate their 20 concrete houses. Furthermore, another 10 houses are threatened with demolition in the northern and southern sides of the village. Bedouins living in Dahyat Assalam and the valley to the south, near the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, may face evacuation as well.
It is likely as well, that the Apartheid Wall will have more houses demolished for its path, because if the Wall runs close to more houses, they are expected to be demolished for being in the Wall’s “buffer zone.” This is in addition to the fact that the Wall will stifle any opportunity that the suburb has for expansion, as there simply will not be enough land left.
Nonetheless, the most important issue facing Anata remains the fact that its primary appeal for many Palestinians had been its location, close to the Jerusalem city center. More than 12,000 workers from different areas throughout the West Bank, as well as workers from Anata, resided there in order to be able to reach their workplaces in Jerusalem, as well as inside the Green Line. All other livelihood in Anata is also being targeted. The few workshops or small factories that employ some of the Palestinians in the village have been targeted with demolitions by Occupation Forces. The brick factory which was demolished last April, is an example of the destruction of Palestinian economic establishments. The factory was located in the eastern side of Anata close to the by pass road where a military camp is built (on Anata’s lands) and close to where a section of the Wall is being constructed right now. The factory was the main source of living for at least three households, in addition to the families of four workers employed there. Animal braxes, wood stores and other forms of economic investment off of which suburban Palestinians could live, has been demolished or is threatened with demolition.
In short, Anata as a suburb is completely dependant economically on Jerusalem with regard to workplaces, marketing or the import of goods. It is for this reason that the Wall will be particularly devastating for this community. The Wall will negate the fact that Anata is close to Jerusalem, and the thousands of workers coming from different places in the West Bank will find themselves without work and without any living sources.