Exeter Palestine Solidarity Campaign

 

Welcome to the Exeter Palestine Solidarity Campaign Website. Last updated: 17 January, 2010

Resisting Dispossession in Jerusalem

Protest tent in Silwan in front of some of the 88 properties threatened with demolitionIf you go half a kilometre north along the Nablus Road from St George’s Cathedral, you will see a tent where Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem are protesting against orders for their houses to be demolished. If you visit the tent, you will be given coffee and can learn about the eviction of Mohammed and Fawzi Al Kurd and their five children from the house the family has lived in since 1956. In 2001 settlers occupied part of their home. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the settlers out, but the order was never implemented. At 4 am on 9 November 2008, Israeli soldiers evicted the Al Kurds. The following day a tent was erected for them but the Israeli military have removed it and replacements -- the present one is the sixth. After years of opposing eviction, Mohammed Al Kurd died of a massive heart attack two weeks after being forced out of his home. Another 28 families in the area live under the threat of their homes being demolished to make way for 200 settlement units for Jews.

Many other Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem are also under threat. The best known is Silwan, just south of the Old City. There are demolition orders on 88 Silwan properties which house 1500 Palestinian Jerusalemites who inherited them from their parents and grandparents. Most were built before Israel came into existence, and the land in this area has been owned by Silwan families for hundreds of years.Map of Sheikh Jarrah showing areas already occupied and controlled by Jews (red and blue) or threatened with takeoverThe ethnic cleansing ( ‘Judaization’) of East Jerusalem is being carried out by a combination of gerrymandering and terrorization of the Palestinian population to get them to leave. Planning and zoning laws are framed so as to favour Jewish expansion. A dozen armed settler groups live in buildings erected illegally in Silwan. Another tactic being used here is to declare areas to be archaeological sites which Palestinians are prevented from entering by armed guards. Several settler homes have been built on these sites.

Not only are Palestinians in East Jerusalem having their houses taken from them, but a large and increasing amount of land round the periphery of Jerusalem is being swallowed up by a ring of Jewish settlements. About 35% of Palestinian land in Jerusalem has been stolen in their construction.

I went on a visit to one such settlement, Nof Zion, on a tour organized by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Nof Zion is on the edge of, but inside, Palestinian East Jerusalem. It is classed as an ideological settlement because a number of Zionists committed to taking over the houses and land belonging to Palestinians will live here. Most of the 400 apartments are being sold to wealthy Jews at present living in the US and France.

Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was declared an international entity to be controlled by the UN. In 1967 Israel took over the whole city by force. According to international law East Jerusalem is occupied territory, so it is illegal for Israel to settle its own citizens here. The Fourth Geneva Convention, which was Hoarding at the entrance to Nof Zion, a Jewish settlement being built on East Jerusalem landratified by Israel in 1952, states that an “Occupying Power shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies." Many UN resolutions have attested the illegitimacy of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem is continuing and accelerating.

In 1948, most of the property in West Jerusalem, and nearly all that in East Jerusalem, belonged to Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Since then most of it has been stolen from them and the process continues. The theft of land and property from non-Jews in Israel and Palestine are unacceptable. They are racist crimes which must stop. What can those of us living outside Israel do? We can boycott Israeli goods, cultural and sporting activities; we can pursuade organizations to disinvest from companies whose activities and products are involved in the occupation of Palestinian areas and the oppression of Palestinians; and we can press our MPs and MEPs to apply sanctions on Israel until it respects United Nations resolutions and adheres to the norms of international humanitarian law.

Aerial terror

With the events of 9/11 in mind, the sight last week of Air Force One escorted by an F-16 fighter flying past the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan caused panic among office workers and concern among fire-fighters. Imagine, then, the terror of the people of Gaza City since Israel's operation 'Cast Lead' offensive as Israeli F-16s continue to terrorise the city with overflights and sonic booms.