The number of playgrounds in Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem is just 1 percent of the national standard, and just over 3 percent of those available to children in the western part of the city, states a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court. The Tzahor non-profit organization, headed by former municipal legal advisor Yossi Havilo, filed the suit on behalf of residents of the Shuafat and Beit Hanina neighborhoods. The suit states there are 60,000 residents in the two neighborhoods and only two playgrounds. A third is now being built after local residents bought the land themselves and turned it into a public park as part of a zoning plan they filed with the city.
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By comparing the two Arab neighborhoods to nearby Jewish ones, the plaintiffs claim there are 35 playgrounds for the 48,000 residents of Ramot, 28 for the 17,000 residents of nearby Ramat Shlomo, and 56 playgrounds for 44,000 people in Pisgat Ze’ev. All told, there is an average of one playground per 1,000 residents in the city’s Jewish neighborhoods, compared to one per 30,000 in Shuafat and Beit Hanina. The plaintiffs have asked the court to order the city to build at least 10 playgrounds over the next two years and another 20 within five years in these neighborhoods.
A municipal spokesperson said the city has built and renovated an unprecedented number of classrooms, roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure in East Jerusalem as part of the mayor’s plan to close the gaps, with a particular emphasis on playgrounds, but noted that most of the appropriate land for such playgrounds is in private hands, and arrangements must be reached with the owners.