Jerusalem Plans to Evict 120 Bedouin to Make Room for Waste Landfill

The municipality says the 500-dunam dump is expected to completely fill the wadi in about 20 years, after which the plan calls for building a public park atop it.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem municipality plans to evict some 120 Bedouin from the eastern part of the city to make room for a landfill.

The city says the 500-dunam dump, which will be located in a wadi below a road leading east from the city to the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, will handle construction waste from the entire Jerusalem area.

The landfill is expected to completely fill the wadi in about 20 years, after which the plan calls for building a public park atop it.

But leftist and human rights organizations such as Ir Amim, several of which sent activists to the site this week, say the plan's real purpose is to prevent the construction of housing for East Jerusalem's Palestinian residents.

"Parks have become another way to take over land in East Jerusalem," said Ir Amim's Ahmad Sub Laban. "The parks, along with the new landfill, are meant to create a continuous stretch of land between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim in the E1 region, which will divide the West Bank in two and prevent a future political agreement."

The residents of the wadi, most of whom are members of the Jahalin tribe, live in an enclave between the separation fence and a security fence lining the road to Ma'aleh Adumim, and must pass through a special gate to reach their village. But despite the difficulties that entails, they view being evicted as far worse.

"We've lived here for 40 years; we have no other place," explained one, Jedwa Kurshan, 45. "It's harder to live here since they built the fence, but this is our life. We'll go to court. We won't give in."

The plan to destroy what is essentially the only Bedouin village within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries won preliminary approval from the regional planning and building committee last week. Opponents currently have a chance to submit objections.

The residents of the wadi, most of them Israeli citizens or residents, have lived there for the past 40 years, in a collection of tents, shacks and small stone houses between the neighborhoods of Isawiyah and Shoafat.

The city said the houses in question are "illegal construction over which legal proceedings have been held, with representatives of the Bedouin families participating," adding that the planned park would serve residents of nearby Arab neighborhoods like Isawiyah.

"The public interest in the plan was made clear to all parties in court," the city said. "The court ruled that the moment the regional [planning] committee gave final approval to the plan, the demolition orders would go into force."

In 2007, the Jerusalem District Court turned down the city's request to evict the villagers under a municipal bylaw for "the preservation of order and cleanliness."

The city had argued that tents and shacks don't have the same legal status as permanent buildings. But the court said the village could be removed only for the sake of a development plan that would serve the public interest. The plan to build the dump appears to meet this definition.

Bedouin village near Jerusalem, November 13, 2012.Credit: Emil Salman
Bedouin residents of the village look at Jerusalem municipality's plan for a waste landfill, November 13, 2012.Credit: Emil Salman