A Palestinian human rights organisation has revealed that the Israeli occupation authorities have closed more than 120 Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem since it completed its occupation of the city in 1967. Around 88 were closed down completely, while the others had to transfer their operations from occupied Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank.
In a press statement, the Almakdasi Foundation said that the Israeli authorities have now closed-down the Islamic Club and Salwan Charity Foundation for a period of 30 days under the pretext of them receiving funding from Hamas and conducting activities on its behalf. This is despite the fact that both foundations have appropriate licences and Salwan presented evidence to prove its independence.
The Almakdasi statement said, "These closures, along with all the others last year and every year since 1967, are part of Israel's policy since the occupation began. The Israeli occupation authorities are trying to obliterate Palestinian identity and institutions." The first to go was the Arab Jerusalem Municipality which was closed by the Israelis in 1967.
The process was speeded up after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, said the statement. Institutions closed by Israel include the House of the East, the Land Research Centre, the Arab Studies Society, the Supreme Council for Tourism, the Palestinian Broadcasting & TV Authority, the Palestinian Geographical Centre, the Palestinian Prisoner Club, the Union of Arab Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural Chambers, the Arab Women Care Association, and the Cultural Forum – Sur Baher.
The foundation noted that the institutions which were closed down in 2011 were the Nidal Centre for Community Work in the Old City; the Jerusalem Foundation for Development in Beit Hanina and the Dahia; the Shoa'a Women's Foundation in Shu'fat; and the Foundation of Work Without Borders in Kafr Akab.
"Such closures," explained Almakdasi, "combine with other policies, including those which aim to crack down on civil society organisations, and human rights institutions in particular, and restrict their work, along with a raft of racist laws and the imposition of many obstacles to the work of civil society." Together, they all threaten the legitimacy and existence of the bodies, and intimidate their staff and volunteers, depriving them of the right to work and, in some cases, their right to live in their own city.