New report focuses on Settler harassment of Palestinians in Jerusalem

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel released a new report discussing the rampant abuses heaped upon Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem by the scores of illegal, colonial settlers there. Unsafe Space: The Israeli Authorities’ Failure to Protect Human Rights amid Settlements in East Jerusalem alarmingly recounts how Palestinians live in a heightened state of insecurity cause by settler harassment that includes spitting, shouting verbal abuses – even video taping Palestinians in their own homes.

Despite Israel’s claim to be a democratic country where all its citizens are treated equally, facts on the ground prove otherwise. Fully 50 percent of Palestinian Jerusalemite children do not go to school because there is a shortage of about 1,000 classrooms.  This is another example of the disparity in Israel’s segregated school system, where the state pays $1,100 per Jewish student, but only $190 per non-Jewish student, according to the Israeli Ministry of Education. As citizens of Israel, Palestinians living in Jerusalem are not treated equally. Home demolitions continue. In 2009, 80 houses were destroyed, rendering homeless their 300 occupants.

In an attempt to claim all of Jerusalem for itself, Israeli authorities and certain NGOs have been working to establish Jewish-only settlements smack dab in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods. In this way, contiguous Palestinian areas are disrupted, carved up into isolated Bantustans.

By the end of 2007, 50,197 housing units for the Jewish population had been built on the expropriated land; no housing units had been built for the Palestinian population on the expropriated land.
The situation is  appalling. Despite living in the same city, Palestinians are not afforded the same municipal services as Jewish Israelis. Consider these statistics:
East Jerusalem in Numbers
Number of residents: Approximately 303,429 (36% of the Jerusalem population) [December 2009 data]
Families under the poverty line: 65.1% (as opposed to 30.8% of Jerusalem’s Jewish families) [2008 data]
Children under the poverty line: 74.4% of the Arab children in the city (as opposed to 45.1% of the city’s Jewish children) [2008 data]
Expropriated land: Since annexing East Jerusalem, the Israeli government has expropriated 24,500 dunams (over a third of the area), which were privately owned by Arabs.
Construction: By the end of 2007, 50,197 housing units for the Jewish population had been built on the expropriated land; no housing units had been built for the Palestinian population on the expropriated land.
Home demolitions: In the year 2009, 80 homes in East Jerusalem have been demolished, leaving 300 people without homes.

Lack of water connections: Approximately 160,000 Palestinian residents have no suitable and legal connection to the water network.
Sewage line shortage: 50 kilometers of main sewage lines are lacking.
Shortage of school classrooms: There is a shortage of approximately 1,000 classrooms. School dropout rate: Currently stands at approximately 50%.
Postal Services: 8 post offices in comparison to 42 in West Jerusalem.

It is time for us to start speaking up and to bring these facts to our neighbors, friends and families. Israel is not a truly democratic state and it openly and shamelessly practices segregation and discrimination based upon religion, race and national origin. The United States – which gives Israel more than $5 billion per year in unconditional military aid, loan guarantees and other grants – holds other countries accountable for their human rights practices. We must start demanding that our own senators and representatives hold Israel accountable by withholding U.S. foreign aid until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal occupation of the Palestinian people, ceases all settlement construction and lifts the siege on Gaza.

Find your elected officials, by clicking here.

~ Kristin Szremski, 09/13/2010


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