Report: 200 Palestinian families without homes in east Jerusalem
More than 200 Palestinian families have been left homeless as a result of Israel's policies in East Jerusalem. (AFP/File)
At least 200 Palestinian families of occupied East Jerusalem are homeless and temporarily living in the houses of their relatives and friends due to home demolitions by the Israeli occupation, with no respite in sight.
The residents have called for the setting up a housing fund in the holy city to no avail.
Palestinian families whose houses have been demolished by the Israeli military bulldozers have been moving to areas behind the Israeli segregation barrier. In doing so, they are taking the risk of losing their Israel-issued Jerusalem identity cards.
The Israelis, who have issued new electronic cards, have denied them to Palestinian residents who live behind the West Bank separation barrier, effectively stripping them of the right to live in the city.
“Those families have been moving behind the barrier to spare themselves the extremely high rents in occupied East Jerusalem where current [monthly] flat rents range from $500-$3,000 [Dh1,836-Dh11,000],” said Jawad Siyam, a political activist and Director of Wadi Helwah Information Centre in an interview with Gulf News.
“From 2008 up till now, we have had at least 200 Palestinian homeless families who are not able to arrange residences to live in.”
Siyam said that the most recent statistics have revealed that in places five to six individuals live in a single room in the occupied East Jerusalem at present.
“There is no construction in the occupied East Jerusalem for the Arab and Palestinian residents at all. This is a fact which Israel wants to highlight to show and create the impression that there are no non-Jewish residents of the holy city,” he said.
He stressed that all projects mentioned and approved in the 1994 Oslo Accords serve only the Israeli interests with not one serving the interests of the Palestinian residents of the occupied East Jerusalem.
“We have been thinking of how to set up a housing fund for those who have lost their houses and ended up homeless but there has been no way to implement such a project in reality,” he said.
“We have repeatedly addressed the issue of the housing fund with international institutions and agencies working in Jerusalem, but those international bodies have showed no interest in such a project at all,” he said.
Those international bodies, he added, focus on psychological, ethical and social issues only, but have never been involved in solving the real problems which face the Palestinians of the occupied East Jerusalem.
“The international bodies should recognise the East Jerusalem is occupied property and act accordingly and as per the real needs of the local residents,” he said.
Siyam said that those bodies have already set up several funds for Palestinian refuges outside the Palestinian territories.
“Why do they not help in setting up a housing fund for Palestinians of East Jerusalem to ease the suffering of those who lose their houses?” he said.
“Despite the Israeli obstructionism about the idea of a housing fund, Palestinians of East Jerusalem will never give up the idea and will exert massive efforts to put one in place,” he said.
“This project is bigger than the size and capabilities of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, but the residents are determined to fulfil this dream to end all homelessness,” he said.
The occupation’s Municipality in Jerusalem has not issued building permits for the Arab residents for the past few decades, and limited the building permits for the Jewish residents of Jerusalem.