Israeli authorities are pressing ahead with plans to demolish an entire Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, human rights NGO B’Tselem reported, which will leave 550 homeless.
Wadi Yasul, located between the neighbourhoods of Abu Tur and Silwan, is home to 72 Palestinian families.
According to B’Tselem, the Jerusalem Municipality has “issued demolition orders for all the neighbourhood homes so all the families there are facing the threat of expulsion.”
In late April, “the city already demolished two of the orders and displaced two of the families.”
The NGO noted that Wadi Yasul built “is adjacent to a forest, also located on privately owned land that was expropriated from its Palestinian owners in 1970.”
In 1977, Israeli occupation authorities “zoned the forest and the area where Wadi Yasul was later established as a green space, where construction is prohibited,” B’Tselem added.
In 2004, the neighbourhood’s residents submitted a detailed plan for retroactive authorisation of their homes, but four years later, Israeli authorities rejected the plan.
However, at the same time, the Jerusalem municipality gave its approval to settler organisation El-Ad “to move forward with plans for group campgrounds, including building the longest recreational zipline in Israel”.
Summarising the context for the fate awaiting Wadi Yasul, B’Tselem stated that “ever since 1967, planning policy in Jerusalem has been geared toward establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic majority in the city.”
“Under this policy, it is nearly impossible to obtain a building permit in Palestinian neighbourhoods,” B’Tselem continued. “The outline plans the city has prepared for these neighbourhoods are largely aimed at restricting and limiting building opportunities in Palestinian neighbourhoods.”