In one of the biggest Israeli campaigns to date, large units of the Israeli police, the Jerusalem Municipality, the National Insurance Institute, and the Arnona Municipal Department raided Shu’fat refugee camp, north of Occupied Jerusalem, early Wednesday morning.
Over 200 Palestinian residents, mostly workers from the West Bank plus a number of Palestinian Jerusalemites from the camp, have been arrested for questioning by Israeli security forces. Pictures of recently-built houses have been taken. The houses belong to Khaled and Nabil Al-Khaldi, and Samer Al-Zaghari. In addition, Islam and Usam Sandouqa were severely attacked and taken to the Israeli Detention & Interrogation Center (Police Station) at the Russian Compound (Mascobia) in West Jerusalem for interrogation. They were released after being informed that they are under one-month house arrest.
The campaign included confiscation of a number of residents’ cars and breaking into houses and searching their contents. Also, patients from the West Bank who came through the camp have been denied access to local hospitals for medical treatment.
According to information gathered by JCSER’s delegates, including statements made by UNRWA field teams, a curfew was imposed on the camp at three o’clock in the morning. Houses have been raided, ID cards examined, and a number of workers arrested, said Khaled Al-Khaldi, head of the Popular Committee for Services.
The head of the raiding unit was carrying demolition orders against some thirty houses, citing ‘illegal’ construction. A number of these houses are located in the northern side of the camp, adjacent to the Jewish settlement of ‘Pizgat Ze’ev’. Pictures of the houses were taken prior to handing out orders. Two years ago, a total of seventeen Palestinian houses in the camp were demolished due to the owners’ lack of building permits. At the same time, building permits were granted to the Israeli residents of ‘Pizgat Ze’ev’, adjacent to the camp.
The Center’s Director General, Ziad Al-Hammouri, observed that the Israeli campaign in Shu’fat refugee camp is the largest move in recent months, and comes as yet another step in the recent escalation against Palestinian construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods. Over the past two weeks, there has been an increase in the number of demolition orders issued, with dozens of orders issued against Palestinian houses in the neighborhoods of Sur Baher, Jabal Al-Mukabber, Sawahreh Ash-Sharqiyya, Beit Hanina, and Shu’fat refugee camp, citing ‘illegal’ construction.
Mr. Hammouri referred to a similar campaign carried out two days ago by the Israeli police and border guards in the village of Al-Walajeh, south of Occupied Jerusalem. During the campaign, dozens of residents were arrested and interrogated. Some statistical information was gathered about the residents.
Israeli activities have also been intensified against the local residents of Nu’man and Beir Una villages, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Israeli occupation authorities are planning to confiscate land in these two villages, with the aim of annexing these areas to the municipal borders. Local residents have been forced to either leave their homes or live in closed ‘ghettos’.
The Center warns of the consequences of this recent Israeli escalation against Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem. According to a report prepared by the Center, Israeli authorities have begun implementing new measures that were recently declared. These include the transfer of authority for suburbs and villages located outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders from the Israeli army to the Israeli police and border guards. The first measure was asking citizens living in ’Anata (Dahiet As-Salam) in northern Occupied Jerusalem, and who carry West Bank ID cards, to obtain residency permits, amid a claim that the area is under the administration of the West Jerusalem Municipality. According to the Center, a number of these families have been living in Dahiet As-Salam for years, and pay the Arnona municipal tax, and the income tax. The Center warns of forcing these families out of their homes. Such measure constitutes a grave violation of citizens’ basic human rights, including their right to residency and housing.
It should be noted that over 25,000 Palestinians live in Shu’fat refugee camp, north of Occupied Jerusalem. The camp was built in 1966 on a total area of 400 dunums. Over the past years, Israeli occupation authorities have intensified measures against the residents of the camp, erecting a military checkpoint at the camp’s main entrance, and preventing the expansion of the camp to address the needs of the growing population. The latter measure has resulted in a severe shortage of housing.
The village of Al-Walajeh, south of Occupied Jerusalem, has a total area of no more than two and a half square kilometers. Part of the village, which is considered as part of Jerusalem, is resided by 150 locals. Most carry West Bank ID cards, while a few dozen carry Jerusalem ID cards. The remaining parts of the village, with a total area of 337 dunums, have been classified as area ‘B’ (under Palestinian control), and area ‘C’ (under Israeli control).