August - October 2000
Jerusalem Settlement Update Report*
* Unless otherwise indicated, the following information is compiled from the reports of the Orient House - Maps and Water Center and Arab Studies Society - Land Research Center.
Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising in September, incidents of settlement activity both sanctioned by Israel and initiatives by Jewish settlers has increased. Included in making more 'facts on the ground,' Israeli settler attacks has also caused numerous injuries and damage to Palestinian property.
New Settlement Outposts
In September, new Israeli settlement outposts were established in the Palestinian area of Ras Al-Amud. According to reports, Jewish youth from the Israeli settler group Ataret Cohanim occupied three Palestinian houses near the Jewish Cemetary on the Mount of Olives. The three houses, which cover an area of 210 m2, were tenanted by Palestinian families until they were forcefully evacuated in 1988 due to ownership claims made by the Israeli "Jerusalem Burial Society".
Settlement Near Completion
The three occupied houses will give additional support to the other Ateret Cohanim settlement outpost in Ras Al-Amud, being built with the sponsorship of Jewish American Millionaire Irving Moskowitz. Originally approved by Prime Minister Ehud Barak on 13 January 1999, the 132 planned living units of the Ras Al-Amud settlement are now near completion and the marketing process has alreadly begun. Jewish buyers are currently signing contracts for the apartments at prices ranging from 103,000 to 212,000 USD.
Mount of Olives
On October 13, Yerushalime Newspaper reported that plans to enlarge the Beit Orot settlement, near Augusto Victoria Hospital, are near final approval. Taken from the Armenian Orthodox Church by Ateret Cohanim in 1991, the plan entails building a complex of buildings on an area of 3000 m2. The plan also includes additional building on a 10,000 m2 parking lot.
On October 29, a car full of Israeli settlers stopped by the entrance of Augusto Victoria Hospital whereapon a settler descended from the car and shot employee, Musa Harzallah, in the right sholder before driving off. This latest attack follows a series of incidents wherein Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers routinely intimidate personnel from the hospital. Officials at Augusto Victoria report that the Israeli Army periodically establishes closures at the hospital barring both staff and patients from entering.
Jabal Abu Ghneim Settlement ("Har Homa")
On 15 September, the Israeli Housing Ministry approved the second phase of settlement construction for the settlement of "Har Homa". The new phase entails the construction of another 3,000 new housing units. The General Manager of the Israeli Housing Ministry, Shlomo Ben Iliahu, confirmed that, to date, 2,200 units have already been built and that the Housing Ministry is planning to market the second phase and prepare for the third phase which will include an additional 1,000 housing units.
The West Jerusalem Municipality Committee has also discussed plans to build an additional 4,000 housing units on Jabal Abu Ghneim called "Har Homa B". If these plans are approved, the proposed settlement of "Har Homa" would total 10,500 planned living units. Added to this total are proposed plans to build another new settlement named "Giba'at Ha'arba'a" on the Al-Arba'a Hilltop next to the Mar Elias Monestary. This new settlement along with the plans to transform the existing caravan settlement of Givat Hamatos, will total 4,600 living units.
If these plans are implemented, Jerusalem will be physically sealed from the south, isolating the city from its Palestinian hinterland.
While the media commonly refers to Israeli settlement of Gilo under the euphamism "Jerusalem neighborhood" or "suburb," Gilo is built entirely on confiscated Palestinian property. For the record, Israel confiscated 2,700 dunums from Beit Jala and Shorafat villages on 30 August 1970 under the pretext of "public interest". According to the original master plan of the Gilo settlement, 9,000 housing units were constructed to accommodate 3,500 Jewish settlers. The Gilo settlement, whose construction began in 1971 and was completed in 1979, is now inhabited by over 30,000 Israeli settlers.
The Jerusalem "Ring Road"
On 18 September, acting Interior Minister Haim Ramon approved the confiscation of 658 dunums of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem to complete the eastern section of the Jerusalem "Ring Road" after receiving the go-ahead from Ehud Barak.
The land confiscations have occurred in six Palestinian neighborhoods including Eisawiyah, A-Tor, Eizariyah, Abu Dis, Ras Al-Amud and Sur Baher. Plans for the road entail three tunnels and one bridge, spanning 15.5 km. The road is expected to be completed in three years with a budget of 900 million shekels.
The construction of the "Ring Road" is intended to cordon off occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank and connect Israeli settlements. The road will consolidate Israeli control over Israeli Municipal Jerusalem and divert Palestinian traffic awayt from the core of the city.