The Tel-Aviv Magistrate’s Court granted the appeal of residents of Sheikh sa’ed, in East Jerusalem , opposing the separation barrier, and cancelled the requisition orders that had been issued to build the barrier. The court’s appeals committee ruled that the planned route of the barrier would cause disproportionate harm to the daily lives of the residents, in part because it separates Sheik sa’ed from other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
This is the first time that a court has voided a section of the separation barrier around Jerusalem. The appeal was filed by the Sheikh sa’ed Neighborhood Committee and five residents of the village, who were represented by attorney Ghiath Nasser.
In reaching its decision, the Appeals Committee, headed by Judge David Gladstein, rejected the state’s argument that the village’s residents constituted a security threat. The Appeals Committee recommended that the barrier be built east of the neighborhood, in a way that enables the residents to gain access to East Jerusalem.
B’Tselem welcomes the ruling, which will prevent the severing of Sheikh sa’ed from East Jerusalem. However, the separation barrier is still causing tremendous hardship to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Jerusalem area, as a result of a route which is based on political and not security considerations.
Sheikh sa’ed was not annexed to Israel in 1967, and remains formally part of the West Bank. Nevertheless, as a result of the difficult topographical conditions in the area, there is no road to link it to the West Bank, and access to the neighborhood is possible only through East Jerusalem. Therefore, in spite of the administrative separation, Sheikh sa’ed continued to function as part of East Jerusalem.
In February 2004, B’Tselem published a report describing Sheikh sa’ed’s detachment from Jerusalem and the West Bank , and what the residents could expect if the separation barrier would be built along the planned route. B’Tselem found that more than one-quarter of the residents of Sheikh sa’ed have already been forced to leave their homes because of the harsh restrictions Israel imposed on them, making their lives intolerable, and predicted that the remaining residents would ultimately have no choice but to leave their homes as well.