Jaljulya Residents to Protest Railway Project on Lands

Citizens and town officials protest plans to appropriate most of municipality’s remaining reserve land for railroad project that will not include train station servicing town, yet will leave the already land-impoverished town without room for future expansion.

The village of Jaljulya is preparing to launch a public struggle over its land reserves, which they say are threatened by plans to build train depot nearby. The residents will pitch a protest tent on the village's agricultural land Monday.

The owners of the land and members of the local council are protesting plans by the Transportation Ministry and Israel Railways to build a compound that will not include a train station, but will have parking and maintenance facilities, west of Jaljulya. The residents of the village, located not far from Kfar Sava, say that more than 600 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre ) of local agricultural land will be expropriated for the project.

Jaljulya - Nimrod Glickman - 18072011
Nimrod Glickman

Jaljulya is located on some 1,700 dunams of land, 800 of them built up and housing a population of 10,000.

A few days ago, the head of the local council, Jaber Jaber, sent an urgent letter to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. He stated that the village has for many years been suffering from an acute shortage of land, both for construction and farming purposes, and that the property slated for expropriation constitutes 80 percent of its remaining land reserves. Jaber stressed that other national infrastructure projects, including one involving Electric Corporation, plus the route of Highway 6, and the expanded parts of Highways 444 and 531, were also built on village lands.

"Jaljulya has contributed lands to national infrastructure in enormous quantities, relative to the size of its own jurisdiction - more than any other town or village in the country," he declared in the letter. "Confirming or endorsing the train plan will severely harm the village's residents."

The local council and the landowners are aware the depot plan is just one of three alternatives being examined by the Transportation Ministry, but some of the locals who took part in a tour of the land on July 4 say they are very concerned.

"Anyone who was there understood that the planners have decided to home in on Jaljulya's land, that this is the option they prefer even if the decision is yet to be made officially," said the chairman of the landowners committee in the village, Ahmed Salah. "All the talk about the other options is just distraction. It's clear they intend to expropriate Jaljulya's lands. We've decided to launch a public and legal struggle to prevent this."

The protesters are pressing for alternatives to the plan, including building the depot on some of the plentiful state-owned land in the area - or moving it to another area entirely and expanding the village's borders.

The Transportation Ministry and Israel Railways said several options are being considered and no decision has as yet been made.