'Anata-Shu'afat, Qalandiya

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Maya Bar Hillel, Daniela Gordon and Hanna Barag (reporting); Translator: Hanna K.


Shuafat: After some errors on our way we arrived at the Shuafat CP. This is the only Palestinian refugee camp that lies within the limits of the State of Israel zone of sovereignty (it is situated within the municipal area of Jerusalem but beyond the green line). The Fence which encircles Jerusalem surrounds the camp from the north, West and South, thus leaving it in fact beyond the boundaries of the city. One shouldn’t confuse between the Shuafat refugee camp and the Shuafath quarter situated about a kilometer to its west and which constitutes an urban area which differs from it in its character and population. The camp has been set up in 1965-1966 with the purpose the direct to it the inhabitants of the refugee camp which was situated in the Jewish Quarter. This is the last camp which has been established for the 1948 refugees and the land on which it is built has been allotted by the Jordanians to the Unrwa organization. It was intended to settle 1500 persons and now 20.000 persons live in it. The services for the camps are supplied by Unrwa and the municipality of Jerusalem. All the other Israeli service suppliers refrain from entering the camps and regard it as an ex territorial zone. The quality of the infrastructure and the services is low, the camps suffer from poverty, neglect and over crowdedness. All its houses are connected to the public water and electricity infrastructures, but not all are connected to the sewerage system. Unrwa cautions that many inhabitants, in complete disregard of safety and engineering instructions, have added a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and even more floors to houses, the foundations of which were intended a priori to sustain one or two floors at the most.

We approached the “magnificent” CP from the wrong sidewalk, and immediately agitated the Border Guards. Our safety and wellbeing figured in the request that we move to the other side, which we did on the first opportunity. The traffic at these hours is very sparse. One person emerged from the “burrow” very furious and claimed that he had been waiting an hour for the passage – but considering the emptiness of the place, it was difficult to accept his claim. In conversations with a few people, it was claimed that the queues in the morning are long, but later there is no pressure. We were about to leave when we discovered a young woman accompanied by four little children, holding an authorization for a family visit. The soldiers explained to her that the permit was valid for Calandia only but she insisted that she intended to go to the camp to a nearby address, and that on the day before she had also been allowed to pass from Shuafath. Our effort to intervene didn’t help. “If we let her pass other thousands will also come and the order will be disrupted”. Long live the occupation bureaucracy!!! Hours later we met her at Calandia. In the area that used to be a big parking lot, they are now working  energetically on another line for the light  train. Cars were checked cursorily. Busses to Jerusalem were waiting for the persons who finished the checking process.

Qalandiya: The CP was almost empty, just a few people passed over quickly. A few women and a child were sitting in the shed but they didn’t seem to require help. A fruit and small objects market has developed here. In the meantime they have not yet begun with the preparations for the Ramadan or with works on changes in the area about which they have informed us. And as usual – all this is insignificant – the real injustice is the prevention of freedom of movement!