East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof - Tomer Neuberg
The east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. Photo by Tomer Neuberg
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Many of the 250,000 people who live in East Jerusalem cannot receive letters by mail at home, because they don't have an address. Hundreds of streets in the east of the city are unnamed.

In recent months the Jerusalem municipality has embarked on a street-naming project in the east of the city, mainly on the basis of suggestions made by the various neighborhood's residents.

The project was likely sparked by a petition filed to the High Court of Justice by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in 2008 about the mail-delivery problem, sources from ACRI say.

The nameless streets are partly a result of illegal construction. The city's refusal to recognize thousands of houses built without permits prevented it from recognizing the streets created by this construction. But the municipality's prolonged neglect of East Jerusalem and problematic planning there are also to blame.

"Not naming streets is ignoring people's existence," said Meir Margalit, a municipal council member from Meretz in charge of the East Jerusalem portfolio.

"If every person has a name, then every street has a name. The underlying message in this situation is that as far as we're concerned, you don't exist, you're not worth even a street name," he says.

The absence of names has repercussions in everyday life. People who don't open a post office box can't get a court summons, or any other official notification, simply because they don't have an address.

When they do get the notification finally, usually by courier, the delay has often already caused problems. In addition, a telephone technician, water company workers or cable technicians cannot locate the house or person who needs their service.

A petition filed in 2008 by ACRI to the High Court of Justice in 2008 complaining about the mail delivery problem in East Jerusalem cites many cases of residents who were harmed by having no address.

The association says the initiative to name East Jerusalem streets was triggered, among other things, by the court hearing on the petition scheduled in eight days.