Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2009
An escalating campaign of Judaization of Jerusalem:
60,000 Palestinians in Danger of Losing their Homes
[ 25/05/2009 - 12:29 AM ]
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)--
Warnings continue to mount about the escalating Israeli campaign to turn Jerusalem into an all-Jewish city, with calls for immediate action to save the holy city from the schemes being implemented by the occupation government and Zionist groups, which have almost reached their final stages. Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine, has revealed “a new scheme taking shape in five racist Israeli ministries that target occupied Jerusalem.”
The Terrible Destruction of Jerusalem Homes Sheikh Salah, in a press conference held May 7th in the Umm Kamal Tent, erected on the ruins of a house destroyed by occupation authorities in Shaykh Jarrah in Jerusalem, said, “There is a comprehensive scheme underway, with each of its links currently being tightened, in order to alter the social fabric of the area and turn the whole belt from Sheikh Jarrah until Wadi al-Joz and Sawwanah in the so-called ‘Sacred Basin’ into a Jewish enclave. The aim is to completely encircle the Old City and to expand 32 illegally expropriated sites in the vicinity of the al-Aqsa Mosque in order to gain mastery over it.”
Salah revealed that the municipality of the occupation government has recently embarked upon enforcement of a new engineering measure for all the houses of Jerusalem. A search will be conducted for any add-ons to houses, which will result in the issuance of a demolition order for the add-on or for the entire building. He described the number of houses which the municipality wants to demolish as “frightening”.
He pointed out that the Jerusalem Municipality has assigned some engineers the task of drawing up new engineering schemes at the expense of the existing houses of the city. He referred to a handwritten document of the Ateret Kohanim Foundation, which is heavily involved in expropriation of Arab properties. In it an offer was made to one of the residents of Jerusalem to purchase a number of his properties, for two-and-a-half-million shekels (600,000 dollars) per square meter.
Meanwhile, a report by the heads of the European missions in the Palestinian territories issued on May 5th stated that Israel is in the process of systematically eradicating the Arab presence from occupied Jerusalem.
The report mentioned a number of matters contributing to this tendency, including the plan by the occupation to increase the population of Zionists in East Jerusalem, with a corresponding reduction in the Palestinian population, and stressed that it would not be easy to separate the Palestinian population from the Jewish settlers living in East Jerusalem due to the unprecedented increase in the number of settlers.
Feverish Expropriation Activities It stated that the institutions overseen by Jewish settlers, such as Il Ad and Ateret Kohanim, pursued different strategies to expand the settlements, most of which are carried out with foreign financing.
The report noted that the Absentee Property Law is one of the methods used by the settlement organizations to expropriate the property of Palestinian civilians. The law is used to carry out a secret campaign initiated by the government of Ariel Sharon targeting Palestinian real estate in the Old City and the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem for transfer of ownership to Zionist settlers.
It also pointed out that the organizations for Jewish settlement sometimes purchase real estate and land from the Palestinians directly and sometimes through intermediaries. In both cases the Palestinian tenants who live in these houses are unaware that their homes have been sold to settlers until they are being turned out of them.
It further pointed out that settlers build settlement units in the heart of Arab neighborhoods without obtaining the required permits, but such structures are never demolished, as happens regularly with Palestinian-owned houses.
The report said that occupation authorities have begun building a synagogue near al-Aqsa Mosque, which has increased Palestinian fears of a long-term plan promoted by some settler groups to take over al-Haram al-Sharif (The Temple Mount).
It explained that the settlement activity being implemented around the Old City of Jerusalem is part of a plan by the occupation aimed at linking up the settlements built in East Jerusalem with those in the Old City.
Islamic Antiquities Theft and Falsification of History In a related development, the occupation authorities placed stones stolen from sites near the southern wall of al-Aqsa Mosque on display in the garden of the newly opened building of the Israeli Knesset. This is consistent with Zionist plans to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city and obscure its landmarks, according to Palestinian institutions concerned with heritage and charitable endowments.
The most prominent of those relics is a large stone weighing five tons stolen from a site close to the south-east of al-Aqsa Mosque below the Marwani prayer hall. A sign near the stone identifies it as being from the Temple Mount, and the accompanying explanation says that the stone is from the era of the alleged Second Temple.
The al-Aqsa Institute for Charitable Endowments and Heritage said, “The move reflects the insistence of the Zionist enterprise and its official political arms to escalate their activities targeting the historical relics of Jerusalem, seeking to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city and obliterate its Islamic and Arabic landmarks. It added that the opening of the park that day (May 5th) is an attempt by the occupation to play up the alleged Hebrew history of Jerusalem based on the claim that the stones were stolen from the alleged remains of the Second Temple.
60 Thousand Palestinians Are Threatened In the same vein, the Archbishop of Sebastia in the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem, Archbishop Ataullah Hanna, urged Arab countries to work quickly to save the city of Jerusalem from the Judaization process, which is in its final stages. He pointed out that the Jews are taking over both Islamic and Christian holy places.
In a lecture delivered at the Association for Opposing Racism and Zionism in Jordan on May 6th, he examined the current reality of Jerusalem, calling it a disaster, and said: “The Judaification process is in full swing, and the Zionist excavations carried out under al-Aqsa Mosque of Jerusalem threaten the historic buildings.” He criticized the official Arab position regarding what is happening to Jerusalem.
In a related development, a new report issued by the Organization for Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations stated that data indicates the Israeli government intends to build tens of thousands of new apartments in the Jerusalem area and what is called Gush Etzion, including 20,000 at a newly expropriated site south of Jerusalem called Gifa’at Ya’al, 2000 new housing units at the expropriated site of Bat Ayin, and 5000 housing units in the expropriated site of Gifaot.
The United Nations on 8th May urged Israel to freeze the demolition orders against Arab homes in East Jerusalem, stressing that 60 thousand Palestinians are threatened with the loss of their homes if the final go ahead is given to destroy all unlicensed housing.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stressed in a recently released statement that “at least 28% of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem have been built without permits,” because the municipality issues only a limited number of building permits to Arabs in this part of the city.
OCHA added “Therefore the Israeli authorities may end up destroying the homes of 60 thousand Palestinians out of the 225,000 people who live in East Jerusalem.”
The Weakness of Arab and Islamic Movements Because of these and other developments, Arab foreign ministers at an emergency meeting held on May 7th in Cairo demanded a stop to the Judaization of Jerusalem and called for support of the Palestinians living in and around the holy city.
The meeting considered the expansion of settlements in the eastern part of occupied Jerusalem, the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes, and excavations beneath and around al-Aqsa Mosque to all be steps in the process of Judaizing Jerusalem.
In the resolutions of the meeting, the foreign ministers called on the Security Council, the Quartet and the relevant regional and international organizations “to immediately intervene to halt all Israeli actions in East Jerusalem.” The resolution noted that these procedures are aimed at “the isolation of Jerusalem, the expulsion of its Arab population, and its conversion into a Jewish city.”
Observers believe that Arab and Islamic activities at the popular and official levels in response to the rapid makeover of Jerusalem will not reach the minimum required level to fend off the dangers posed to the holy city and to confront the Zionist schemes designed to obliterate its Arab and Islamic landmarks.
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