ISRAEL SETTLEMENTS ROAD TO CUT THROUGH EAST JERUSALEM

Hundreds of Palestinians will be made homeless to build a road that will only serve Israeli settlements.

At least 57 homes, housing 500 Palestinians, face demolition for the “American road” in Jabal al-Mukaber

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Jabal al-Mukaber area of occupied East Jerusalem say they are living in a state of anxiety and fear as Israeli occupation authorities begin excavations for the “American road” project, set to be built on the ruins of their homes.

The road that constitutes only one section of a larger highway, titled al-Touq, will cut through East and West Jerusalem, with the unstated aim of connecting illegal Israeli settlements north, south, and east of the city. It is set to bridge between the West Bank settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim, passing through Jerusalem.

The Israeli municipality’s planning and construction committee introduced al-Touq road scheme in Jerusalem a decade ago. The completed highway will run a length of more than 11km, with a width of about 70 metres.

To build the road, the Jerusalem municipality will confiscate approximately 1,200 dunams (300 acres) of Palestinian land in at least 12 Palestinian neighbourhoods within Jabal al-Mukaber.

A map of the “American road” that will cut through Jabal al-Mukaber in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Homes touching the shaded yellow area are under threat of being demolished

Construction for the “American road” section of the project has already commenced in the Salaa neighbourhood of Jabal al-Mukaber, stirring fears among residents.

“We are living in a state of perpetual fear,” said Mohammad al-Sawahra, a resident of Salaa. “It’s as if we are living in [two different worlds]. In Palestinian areas, it is like living in the third world, while those living in settlements built on the land of Jabal al-Mukaber are offered a life of comfort like first world countries,” al-Sawahra told Al Jazeera.

A month ago, Al-Sawahra received a demolition order for his home to make way for the new road. “Now, they want to build a road on the ruins of my home for themselves, as well,” he added.

Mohammad al-Sawahra built his home, in 1994,
without a building permit due to the difficulty of
obtaining one from Israel.

About 57 homes, housing 500 Palestinians, will be demolished for the completion of the “American road”, according to Raed Basheer, a lawyer with the Committee of Defence for Jabal al-Mukaber properties.

“We were surprised to hear about the project, which will be 32 metres wide, with an additional 32 metres on the sides to allow for the light rail. All of the homes, both old and new, standing in the way of the road, will be demolished,” Basheer told Al Jazeera.

“In response to this plan, we reached out to the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem and managed, with difficulty, to obtain an extension on the house demolition orders for five years, provided that we submit a request every year to extend the demolition orders. But, still, we do not know whether we will be allowed to remain in our homes over the next five years.”

INTERACTIVE: 2016: A record year of home demolition in East Jerusalem

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with the Haifa-based Adalah legal centre, said that the map for the planned project indicates that the road will serve only Israelis and Israeli settlements.

The plan will wipe out all the roads that connect the Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem together, turning the areas into islands that will be geographically and economically disconnected, making it difficult for Palestinians to access their schools and health centres, she told Al Jazeera.

Nabeel Basheer, another resident of Salaa, described the al-Touq scheme for the city as deceptive. “It [the project] is being promoted as a one that will benefit the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, without mentioning of the fact that it will entail the demolition of homes, and its ultimate goal of connecting the settlements,” he told Al Jazeera.

Israel frequently uses home demolitions to control and punish Palestinians living under its occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since 1967, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territories, at least 48,000 Palestinian homes and housing structures have been demolished.

The reasons that the Israeli state gives to the homeowners vary – from building without permits to punishment for an attack.

(Source / 20.02.2017)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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