These days, several main checkpoints and barriers in the depth of the West Bank have been fully or partially removed. We appreciate this fact and hope that this is only the beginning of removing obstacles and restoring the Palestinians' freedom of movement.
VILLAGES AND NEIGHBORHOODS SURROUND JERUSALEM
This monthly alert focuses on neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area inhabited by both Palestinians who bear blue IDs (residents of the State of Israel) and those who bear green IDs (subjects of the Palestinian Authority). The hub of life for these neighborhoods is Jerusalem proper with all of its municipal services - health, education, sources of livelihood etc. The roads connecting these neighborhoods to Jerusalem have all been blocked and they remain isolated and disconnected, and without a definite, clear civil status.
Nabi Samawil (Nebi Samuel)
This neighborhood is situated between the Jewish settlements of Ramot and Giv'at Ze'ev, close to the historic site Nabi Samawil which, according to tradition, is the burial place of the prophet Samuel and is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The Israeli army has cut off Nabi Samawil from the rest of the West Bank and isolated it almost completely. The isolation of the village and its 220 inhabitants is one of many acts of annexation that Israel conducts throughout the West Bank. Since the 1970s Israel has restricted construction in the village. This restriction even prevents repairing damages in existing buildings. The residents are prevented from enlarging their dwellings. Dozens of young married couples are forced to relocate to other areas.
Have we mentioned 'natural growth' and 'normal life'?
The village of Nu'man
This village is situated south-east of Har Homa settlement. It was annexed by Jerusalem after the 1967 war. The villagers were erroneously registered as residents of the West Bank, thus becoming illegal aliens in their own homes. Instead of correcting this bureaucratic mishap, the State has been using it to force the inhabitants out of their home village.
In 1992 the villagers were informed that they were forbidden to build houses or expand existing ones. In 1996 their children were removed from the school they had attended in Umm Tuba (annexed to Jerusalem), under the claim that they were residents not of Jerusalem but of the West Bank - in spite of the fact that the Separation Wall was built east of the village, between it and the Palestinian village Al Has. The children now go to school in Al Has. On their way to and from school, they must cross the checkpoint where their schoolbags are inspected. The villagers receive no services from the Jerusalem municipality, except for paying heavy fines on 'illegal construction'.
Sheikh Sa'ad and Jabal Mukabar are both a part of West Sawahra. In 1967 only the Jabal Mukabar area was annexed by Jerusalem, while the Seikh Sa'ad area remained an official part of the West Bank. In time, families from Jabal Mukabar have moved over to Seikh Sa'ad as a result of 'natural growth', and most of them possess Jerusalem resident IDs. There is merely a narrow street separating Jabal Mukabar and Sheikh Sa'ad. All of the services needed by the residents, such as health, education and burial, as well as family relations are all in Jabal Mukabar, a part of the Jerusalem municipal jurisdiction.
The planned route of the Separation Wall was meant to disconnect Sheikh Sa'ad from Jabal Mukabar. The residents appealed to the court and in March 2006 their petition was accepted and the court ruled that the wall would pass by the neighborhood on the east and its residents - both Jerusalem ID holders and those who are not - would be practically included in the Jerusalem municipal jurisdiction. On May 23rd 2006 the State petitioned the High Court of Justice to repeal this ruling, claiming it disregarded the security ramifications of the alternative route, and that it would rather harm the villagers even more. This petition is still pending.
Until the High Court rule on the issue, a checkpoint has been set up at the exit from Sheikh Sa'ad towards Jabal Mukabar, preventing vehicular traffic. For years the vehicles of Sheikh Sa'ad residents have been trapped inside the neighborhood so that even fuel has to be carried over in 'jerricans'. Lately a road from the village into the West Bank has been repaired. For Sheikh Sa'ad residents holding Palestinian IDs, leaving the village into Jabal Mukabar on foot entails a special permit from the Civil Administration. Most applications for such a permit are refused.
Contrary to these 'orphan' neighborhoods, denied any kind of proper local administration, there are other neighborhoods in the Jerusalem municipal area subject to a different sort of catch, 'belonging' to both administrations: Walajeh in the southern outskirts of the city, vis-à-vis the Biblical Zoo, and Kufr 'Akeb and Semiramis in northern Jerusalem.
The northern neighborhood of Walajeh, called 'Ein Juwaize**, was annexed to Jerusalem in 1967. No one knew this - the municipality did not collect city taxes there nor provide public services. Suddenly, the Jerusalem Municipality began to issue demolition orders for houses built without construction permits. The inhabitants, a few of whom possess blue IDs, and most of whom hold green (Palestinian) IDs, have always obtained public services from the neighboring town of Beit Jala, and worked in Jerusalem. Since the routing of the Separation Wall, Walajeh residents are prevented entry into Jerusalem, although they are officially city residents.
Kafr 'Aqb and Semiramis - Jerusalem beyond the Wall
Both Kafr 'Aqb and Semiramis, situated in the southern outskirts of Ramallah, were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967 and remained beyond the Separation Wall north of Jerusalem. The residents, some of whom bear Israeli IDs and others Palestinian IDs, pay city taxes to the Jerusalem municipality, but do not receive any municipal services. The adjacent neighborhoods, without any clear physical division, are actually a part of the Ramallah municipal area. Israeli ID holders who work in Jerusalem must cross the Qalandiya Checkpoint every single day, with all the hardship this entails.