The Lutheran World Federation has operated in Jerusalem since 1910 and runs a vocational training centre in Beit Hanina which opened in 1949. Currently 180 students between 16-18 years are registered at the centre, acquiring skills such as auto mechanics, carpentry, electronics and telecommunications. Yet, the Apartheid Wall that cuts through Beit Hanina runs only 150 meters in front of the building in Dahyat Al-Baread resulting in most of the students being barred access to the centre and education.
120 of the students are not allowed to cross the Wall and reach the training centre as they donât hold the âJerusalem IDâ issued by the Occupation Forces to Palestinians from Jerusalem. Moreover, 22 of the 30 employees of the centre face the same problem.
When the Occupation closed the passage across the main street of Beit Hanina at the beginning of this year, the vicious permit system was applied. Initially 70 three-month permits for students without Jerusalem IDs were issued. At the time of renewal only 40 were given out and now, at the third time of renewal, the Occupation Authorities handed out just 20 permits for 120 students. Out of the 22 staff members without âJerusalem IDâ only 12 were granted permits. In order to allow staff and students to complete the school year, the training centre has had to offer accommodation in the hostel of the school.
The end of the semester was to be celebrated with a graduation party on July 23rd. However, out of the 120 non-Jerusalem ID holders, 80 were not able to attend while families of the students were also prevented from attending the celebration. The centre may well have held its last graduation party. The majority of potential new students are barred from crossing the street in Beit Hanina by the Wall and permit system and thus denied their right to apply for courses in the college. So far less than 40 students – and only 5 of them from without Jerusalem ID – have been able to reach the school to register for courses in the New Year.
The case of the vocational training centre in Beit Hanina is a common tragedy in Jerusalem where schools, hospitals and other service centres for Palestinians are closing. Sealing off of the city from its people has devastating social, economic and cultural effects for Jerusalem and is subjecting Palestinians to life in caged-in ghettos.
Jerusalem hosts 5 vocational training colleges, with only 1-2 vocational training institutes located in each West Bank city. The heritage of Jerusalem is left under severe threat as Palestinians â who have been at the centre of life in the city for centuries â are cleansed from their capital.