The Apartheid Wall is almost completed in Jerusalem, snaking around Palestinian communities and shutting them out of the city. Settlements expand and new colonies emerge on the Palestinian lands left isolated behind the Wall. A railway project seeks to integrate the illegal settlements into the city.
In the Palestinian capital – like the rest of Palestine – life and existence is suffocated into ever-smaller ghettos and expulsion an imminent threat.
For over a thousand years the city has been a hub of cultural, religious and social activity. It reflected a diversity of cultures, a rich ethnic diversity.
However, enormous changes since 1948 threaten not only to destroy the unique fabric of the city, but the rights of the Palestinian people to reside in their capital. Jerusalem has always been a central demand of Zionist ideology and leaders who wished to see it cleansed of Palestinians for Jewish settlers.
That demand is now becoming a reality.
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The Judaization of Jerusalem since 1948
Destruction in the Old City directly after the 1967 saw the demolition of the Maghariba Quarter containing 125 houses for a plaza for the Western Wall. Meanwhile, West Jerusalem was cleansed of its Palestinian residents in the first half of 1948. Its Judaization was secured by the forced expulsion of approximately 80,000 Palestinians from their homes and properties.
38 Palestinian villages in West Jerusalem were destroyed during the 1948 war. Numerous settlements were built on the ruins and occupied lands of these villages.
The creation of the "Jewish Quarter" in the Old City came from the transfer of Palestinians from their homes and from the confiscation of property for the benefit of Jews. More settlements sprang up around Jerusalem, on land confiscated from the districts of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Their presence isolated remaining Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem and formed a physical outer ring around the city. This cuts Palestinians in Jerusalem off from the rest of Palestine.
A policy of systematic and deliberate discrimination against the Palestinian population was developed in Jerusalem through land expropriation, planning permission and building laws. Like Apartheid South Africa, the Occupation uses a racist ID card system. In Jerusalem Palestinians hold "temporary residency" ID and are subjugated to discriminatory laws and taxes. Moreover, hundreds of Palestinians have these IDs revoked on a yearly basis, reflecting a common tactic used to drive Palestinians out of the capital.
In a rapid amount of time the Occupation constructed an illegal settlement municipality of Jerusalem at odds with international law and the rights of the Palestinian people. Over half of the Occupation municipality today was not part of the city before 1967, but parts of Bethlehem and 28 other West Bank towns.
During the Oslo process new measures were taken to shut Palestinians out of their capital. Checkpoints were placed on the entrances to the city. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were refused entry. After the outbreak of the Intifada, Palestinians in Jerusalem have been forbidden to enter West Bank except for Ramallah. A steady exodus of Palestinian organizations and commerce began from the centre of Jerusalem into outlying areas such as Abu Dis, Ezawiya, Beir Naballa and Al-Ram so they could continue to operate. The social and cultural life of the city began to disintegrate under the Occupation closures and continued the suffocation of Palestinian areas.
The Apartheid Wall
Once the wall is finished throughout Jerusalem it will total 181km. By December 2005, over 130km of the 8-meter high concrete structure had been constructed. Completion in early 2006 will leave the majority of Palestinians in and around Jerusalem – around 190,000 people – facing two options. To stay in Jerusalem's ghetto neighborhoods, subjected to high Occupation taxes, imprisoned by Walls and a life under siege. Secondly, exile into what remains of
the West Bank and Gaza or abroad, and permanent loss of the right to live in the Palestinian capital.
Given that Palestinians rely on Jerusalem for employment, basic services and education, the Wall is beginning to depopulate these villages as well as tearing families and communities apart.
In the last few months 80% of the population of West Ezawiya village have deserted their homes in order to remain in Jerusalem. Out of a population of 5000 people, only around 1000 Palestinians now remain in this village and with the wall's completion they will be prevented fromentering Jerusalem.
The Wall around Jerusalem ensures the annexation of all the settlement blocs around the city (also known as "the Jerusalem Envelope") and their expansion on the Palestinian lands stolen by the Wall.
A chain of 181 Km, the concrete Wall forms a series of ghettoised Palestinian neighborhood Palestinians are being shut in by the Wall and the settler roads into 4 main ghettos:
Northwest Beit Duqqu, Beit Ijza, Qibia, Beit Sourik and Beit Anaan will be merged into one ghetto. Occupation Forces have confiscated and isolated 14,669 dunums from these villages. The North West ghetto has lost 5 martyrs so far in demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall.
North Beit Hanina, Qalandiya, Beir Nabala, al- Jeeb and Jodaira form a ghetto. Between them the villages will lose at least 10635 dunums from the Wall.
East where Ar-Ram, Jaba', Hizma, Anata and Shoffat form a ghetto, isolated from 6500 dunums of their lands
Southeast Abu Dis, Anata and Eizarya Ghetto where the 8-meter high concrete wall runs through the school playground sealing off around 13,000 dunums for Maale Adumim.
Two new settler-only bypass roads planned for Jerusalem, will add to the grid which already exists in the city, connecting the settler roads southeast of Bethlehem to the roads to the north west. They will reach a length of 45 Km for which 1070 dunums of land have been confiscated. This road will demolish at least 38 houses in Sawahra, Tour and Abu Dis. The Second Road (# 16) will connect between the Ramot Eshkol Settlement to Maale Adumim and the other settlements in East Jerusalem. The length of the road will be 2.8 Km.