Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

Peace Not Walls

Jerusalem – Separate and unequal

Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day on Sunday, which commemorates the “unification” of Jerusalem after the 1967 war.  An editorial in Haaretz, called the Lies of Jerusalem, argues that Jerusalem is anything but united:

The wall that divides statements such as “We come with a united government to a united Jerusalem,” which was issued on Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from the facts on the ground, is growing ever higher.

The article cites  a report released by the Association for Civil Right in Israel (ACRI) that outlines the economic and practical disintegration of East Jerusalem due to the discriminatory policies and neglect of the Israeli state authorities and the Jerusalem Municipality.  There is also a short film that details these conditions: 


These policies, according to the report, have resulted in an unprecedented deterioration in the state of 360,882 Palestinians in Jerusalem: 78% of the total Palestinian population in the Jerusalem District live below the poverty line, including 84% of the children, according to the Israeli National Insurance Institute.  

See more statistics about life for East Jerusalemites.  |  Read more  about the background issues of Jerusalem.

Palestinian family of 12 faces eviction from Silwan home of 30 years

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) and many other groups are working to keep the Palestinian Sumarin family of 12, including 5 children, in their home of 30 years. They have received notice that they will be forcibly evicted on or after November 28 if they do not vacate the property.

The home is in the controversial neighborhood of Silwan, right next to where the settler group Elad – which is also involved in this affair – is expanding the archeological site of the City of David. Elad built the visitor’s center of the “City of David” tourism site next to the Sumarin family’s house. Therefore, the house is a strategic site for settlers, as it would give them a large contiguous area at the entrance of Silwan.

The Custodian of Absentee Property took control of the property, following the passing of the house owner Musa Sumarin in 1983. At the time, his sons resided in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and according to the Abandoned Property Law (established to expropriate property from Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons, following the 1948 war and 1967 occupation of the West Bank), the house was confiscated by the Custodian that ultimately transferred possession to Himnuta, a subsidiary company of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). A 2006 Jerusalem Magistrate Court decision, in the absence of the family, granted the JNF appeal to forcefully evict the family, and levy a 2 million ILS (roughly 500,000 USD) fine. Some two months ago the family was served with an order by the State Bailiff’s Office to vacate their home by November 28th, 2011, or face forcible eviction.

Ahmed Sumarin doesn’t know what to do.

“I don’t know what to do if they come with force. This is our home. My grandfather still lives here. Where will we go? If they take your home away, you can only go onto the street.” 

As the occupier, Israel is responsible for providing for the care and shelter of the occupied population, and is forbidden by international law from moving its own population into occupied territory. Israel claims this is not occupied terrritory because they annexed this part of East Jerusalem in 1967, a move that hasn’t been recognized by an other country.

For more information about home demolitions, see No Place Like Home from ICAHD.  For more information about the most recent practices in East Jerusalem, see this presentation by ICAHD  or this summary about a new publication “No Home, No Homeland: A New Normative Framework for Examining the Practice of Administrative Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem.”


Jerusalem’s final status affected by settlements, home demolitions

A new report from Terrestrial Jerusalem shows the increase in settlement activity in and around Jerusalem.  Currently, there are pending plans for the construction of approximately 8000 new units, and, in addition, approximately 11,000 units in the pre-statutory stage.  This, combined with the increasing number of home demolitions and Palestinians displaced by them, are affecting Jerusalem’s final status, in contradiction to the Oslo agreements. 

 Read an analysis by Americans for Peace Now about settlement construction, and an official Israeli government view on settlements.  

Listen to an audio tour from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions using a map of the Old City of Jerusalem to understand the history, process and effects of home demolitions there.

Recent Announced Expansion of Gilo Settlement Shows Larger Plan

The recent expansion of the Gilo settlement is part of a larger plan to encircle Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements.


The recent 1100-unit expansion announced for the south of the Gilo settlement – on the heels of the US and Quartet plea to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and that neither side should carry out provocative actions – reveals yet another chapter of the expansive illegal settlement enterprise surrounding Jerusalem.


See for more on the status of Jerusalem, click the photo for a presentation specifically about the Mordot Gilo South expansion.

New UN Report Says Palestinian Presence in East Jerusalem Threatened

UN report on EAst Jerusalem
A new report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Occupied Palestinian Territories says that unless current Israeli policies are changed, the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem is at risk.   See the Peace not Walls Major Issue page on Jerusalem for more information, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land’s website for information about our longtime companion church there.
The report gives background, current statistics and case studies about residency rights; planning, zoning and home demolitions; settlements; the separation barrier and restrictions on education and health care.
Citing the Jerusalem Master Plan of 2000 and related policies designed to maintain a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, the report blames the current Palestinian housing shortage on Israeli policies like reserving only 13% of the land for Palestinian building, most of which is already built up, home demolitions, settlement expansion and the new open spaces plan.
Dr. Tawfik Nasser

Dr. Tawfik Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria, explains the difficulties of running a hospital in East Jerusalem in a new UN report.

According to the report,  the Palestinian population is also being thinned by the revocation of Jerusalem IDs, the freezing  of family reunification permits and outright evictions is also detailed.  Problems with the separation barrier, access to education and health care are also explored.  One case study in the report features the LWF’s Augusta Victoria Hospital’s CEO Dr. Tawfik Nasser  discussing the difficulty in expanding hospital space and obtaining pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and necessary permits for EMTs.

Augusta Victoria Hospital has been serving refugees and all who need health care since 1949, and is one of six major health institutions in East Jerusalem.  The Lutheran World Federation’s Jerusalem program, which runs the hospital as well as other programs, also has a housing project underway, the Mt. of Olives Housing Project,  to address the critical housing shortage for Palestinians and help keep a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.

Another case study in the report features the the Kasabrehs.  Ghassan, the organist at Redeemer Lutheran Congregation, has a Jerusalem ID, but his wife, Rimaz, is from Nablus and only has a West Bank ID.  They have been told that the yearly permit they have been issued – a timely and sometimes costly process – will not be issued anymore as of now, so she will be illegal in her own home when her current permit runs out.  The Kasabrehs were featured on an ELCA video entitled The Forbidden Family.