In the month of March, the people of Jerusalem continued to stand against the Occupation municipalityâs campaign to marginalize and expel the Palestinian population. A number of homes were demolished last month, while the efforts to force several families out of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah intensified. These incidents, while alarming, are not surprising. Their systematic nature reflects official Occupation planning and development plans for the city, which aim to restrict the growth of Palestinian communities while simultaneously strengthening and expanding Jewish ones.
Demolishing Palestinian homes
***image2***From the beginning of the year until the month of March, 349 homes in the Jerusalem area were issued demolition orders, in addition to other structures, including a wing of the al-Huda school in East Jerusalem. The most prominent case has been the 88 homes targeted in the Bustan neighborhood of Silwan, whose residents have collectively organized against the municipality. In March, another demolition operation, similar in scale to Bustan, was announced for the Shufat camp, where 55 homes were issued demolition orders.
While mass displacement has not yet been carried out in Bustan or the Shufat camp, demolitions have continued apace, with 45 demolitions taking place since January. At the beginning of the past month, the Occupation municipality leveled a home in âEin al-Loza, in Silwan, where 11 people lived. In Beit Safafa, heavy machinery destroyed the sixth floor of a residential structure in East Jerusalem, which had housed seven people. The fourth and fifth floors of the same building also carry demolition orders. Additionally, a Palestinian man demolished his home in East Jerusalem to avoid paying the high fine charged by the municipality when it demolishes a home.
The largest strike, however, happened on 18 March in al-Ezariya, when wrecking crews destroyed a family home as well as several Bedouin tents and animal pens. A total of 39 people lost their homes.
Confiscation, expulsion and settlement
***image1***Happening concurrently with the attacks on Palestinians residents is an active settlement campaign. Since the beginning of the year, numerous tracts of land have been confiscated in the Jerusalem district for the establishment of settlements and related infrastructure. In Abu Dis, for instance, 506 dunums were appropriated for the extension of the Wall around Maâale Adumim. This month, it was announced that 2,570 settlement units would by added to the Gilo settlement, and that 860 would be constructed in the first stage.
Closer to the city, confiscations totaling some 30 dunums occurred in the Tuyur neighborhood occurred in January and February. Occupation spokesmen also announced plans for the construction of a new settlement in Beit Hanina consisting of 200 housing units.
In the heart of the city itself, the residents of Shiekh Jarrah continue to fight to remain in their homes. This month, the so-called High Court sanctioned the eviction of the Hanoun and al-Ghawi families and the takeover of their homes by settlers. So far, a total of 52 people are threatened with displacement in Shiekh Jarrah. However, this number is sure to rise, as another 25 households have been unofficially threatened.
The assault on Sheikh Jarrah began a number of years ago, intensifying last year when Mohammed and Fawziya Kurd were evicted in the middle of the night from their home. Mohammed Kurd, already suffering from health problems, died of a heart attack soon after as a result of the eviction.