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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Palestinian Life in East Jerusalem Photo Album


Annexed land–
After its victory in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel annexed 70 sq km of the West Bank adjacent to West Jerusalem. This land, East Jerusalem and outlying areas, contained 28 Palestinian towns and villages. Today 250,000 Palestinians live within the municipality of Jerusalem as defined by Israel. They pay city and state taxes and are considered residents, though not citizens, of Israel. In this picture a Muslim Palestinian prays in the street near to the al-Zayyem checkpoint.

International law–
Palestinian and Jewish areas are very close to each other but their residents rarely interact. Here, a Palestinian grazes his animals on land between the Jewish neighbourhood or settlement of East Talpiot and the Palestinian village of Zur Baher. Under international law, what Israel characterises as neighbourhoods are considered settlements built illegally on occupied territory. About 30% of the annexed land has since been expropriated for settlements which are today home to 200,000 Jews.

The West Bank barrier was built, Israel argues, to prevent the Palestinian suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians. But in several areas the wall is redrawing the borders of East Jerusalem, locking Palestinian residents outside the city. Palestinians argue that the barrier is an attempt to grab land and redefine the boundary between the West Bank and Israel, and the International Court of Justice has declared it illegal.

Refugee camp–
Outside the barrier, but within the Jerusalem municipality, is the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuafat. Its residents pay city and state taxes though they are now outside the barrier. The camp is severely neglected. Here the sewer runs in a ditch next to the wall.

Cut off–
The Shuafat refugee camp is today home to about 20,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are still legally residents of Jerusalem. It was built in 1965 to house 1,500 Palestinian refugees who were living in a refugee camp in the Jewish quarter of the Old City when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule. After the 1967 war it became home to many more refugees.

A football pitch in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukabar. The Jerusalem municipality has not built any parks in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem. A study in 2006 by liberal Israeli historian Meir Margalit showed that Arabs living in Jerusalem, about 33% of the population, received 12% of its welfare budget and 15% of the education budget.

Ottoman roads–
In this area, Umm Tuba, there is no sewage system and the roads date back to Ottoman times. The new buildings in the background are part of the settlement, or neighbourhood, of Har Homa.

Building restrictions–
Out of the portion of the city budget spent on Palestinians, part goes into financing the demolition of illegally built Palestinian houses. The process of acquiring a permit for Palestinians is arduous if not impossible as most of the areas in East Jerusalem were designated as “green zones” where building is prohibited.

Some families still live in shacks next to their demolished homes, such as this boy and his family in the Wadi Dam area of the Beit Hanina neighbourhood.

The 2006 study estimated that 62% of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in poverty, as compared with 23% of Jewish families in East Jerusalem. This picture shows a one bedroom home lived in by a family of six.

Holy Basin–
A recent development in East Jerusalem is the establishment of Jewish settlements inside Palestinian neighbourhoods, especially in areas in or close to the Holy Basin – the area containing the Old City and surrounding holy sites. New heavily guarded compounds for Jews are appearing such as this one in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood near the Mount of Olives.

Competing hopes–

While Israel talks of its eternal and undivided capital in all of Jerusalem, Palestinians hope to establish their capital in East Jerusalem.

On the ground, Jewish and Palestinian areas of the city have in places become so cluttered that they are more and more difficult to separate.

Hat-tip to Desert Peace

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