By: Hiba Aslan
pisgat zeev settlement in Jerusalem
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
The occupation’s violations are extending to the basic life necessities of Palestinians in Jerusalem. In fact, the demolition of houses and the confiscation of land are increasing daily at the expense of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Settlements are expanding and more difficult restrictions are being imposed on the residents in addition to other forms of escalation imposed on the Palestinians of Jerusalem.
In this report, we will focus on the latest settlement projects implemented by the occupation in preparation for the "Greater Jerusalem" plan. We will also discuss the history of Israeli colonization in Jerusalem before the occupation of the city in 1967 and the environmental impact of land confiscation on all aspects of life.
Relentless colonization projects
Recently, Israeli media announced the Israeli occupation authorities’ intention to implement a project that links a number of settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem within their plan to expand the borders of Jerusalem. According to “Makan” network which belongs to the occupation government; the expansion projects include the construction of underground tunnels linking the settlements to Jerusalem. The Israeli government claims that the main goal of these projects is to eliminate traffic, but the reality is that they aim to link the settlements together in order to expand their control over Jerusalem. According to the network, the settlements within the project that will be included in the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem are “Maale Adumim” situated East of Jerusalem, “Gush Etzion” in the South and settlements near Jerusalem such as “Givat Zeev”, “Efrat” and “Betar Illit”.
According to media reports, there is an intention to expel 150,000 Jerusalemite Palestinians living outside the apartheid wall and replace them with settlers, through a plan to separate the entire Palestinian neighborhoods and towns and remove them from the borders of Jerusalem municipality. Although the settlement expansion is increasing in both Jerusalem and the cities of the West Bank, the occupation is using media to exaggerate the announcement of its settlement projects. This was confirmed by Khalil al-Tufakji, Director of Maps Department at the Arab Studies Society. Al-Tafkaji confirms that many years pass between announcing the construction of new projects, approving them and the third stage of bidding for construction, but the occupation and the media are exerting pressure by announcing new projects on a daily basis, and this certainly does not negate nor reduce the size and gravity of the colonization.
The occupation strategy used to expand Jerusalem is to seize houses (real estate) rather than land in light of the “Jewish Land” law before 1948, which means that since 1995, there has been no land confiscation, and if any land is confiscated after the year of 1995, then it’s actually land robbed from Palestinians many years ago and only now that the Israeli authorities are launching their projects on it.
The statistics of the Maps Department in the Institute for Arab Studies indicate that the number of settlers in Jerusalem - the city center - reached 220,000, which is an increase of approximately 13% under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. During 2016, 2600 settlement units have been approved, 1,400 units have been deposited for discussion, and 2,400 additional settlement units are being built after tenders have been submitted to construction and contracting companies.
The environmental impact of colonization
The Israeli colonization has a destructive impact on the Palestinian environment; in fact it has affected different aspects of Palestinian environment including water depletion, pollution by waste water and solid waste, and polluting water; in addition to the noise pollution and the destruction of Palestinian cultural heritage and the agricultural sector.
According to a report by the Palestinian National Information Center, Israel controlled water until the amount of water used by settlers reached four times that of the Palestinians who now suffer from dangerous water shortages.
Settlers’ wastewater, which is deliberately disposed in the valleys and agricultural lands of Palestinians, has contaminated the groundwater reservoir and increased the percentage of nitrates and salts, making it unsuitable for use. In addition, settlements waste water is causing an increase in soil salinity, pores clogging and poor production capacity.
In terms of solid waste, according to the Palestinian National Information Center, the amount of settlements’ wastes dumped in the Palestinian territories is estimated at 250 thousand tons per year. In fact, the occupation control over most of the land creates an obstacle to the establishment of sanitary landfills which leads to the establishment of random and unorganized landfills close to residential communities causing negative effects on the residents, which will not end until Israel halts colonial projects.
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh