Beit Safafa (Jerusalem), April 9 (EFE). – The residents of Beit Safafa Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, watching helplessly as bulldozers and earth boring machinery and arramblan with olive trees from the town center to build a highway against whom have lost the battle.
“This can not be reversed,” he laments, watching how they work frowning bulldozers, Mohamed Yadalah, local resident and one of the campaigners for the road that he says have seized several square kilometers of their lands.
The village is mainly situated in the occupied Palestinian territory, although a small portion is located in West Jerusalem (which the international community recognizes as Israel itself) and its 11,000 inhabitants are Palestinians, some of them with Israeli passport.
The construction of a highway to connect several Jewish settlements in the western part of the city through Beit Safafa has aroused considerable controversy, since it is one of the few towns that still maintained a semi-rural and quiet in the East Jerusalem.
The very chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in a rare visit by a Palestinian leader to East Jerusalem last March organized a visit to Beit Safafa accompanied by the heads of the European and Latin American diplomatic missions in the city to see with their own eyes cause damage to the highway into town.
“The highway will destroy the fabric of society: children can no longer go to school walking, the neighbors will not go to the mosque on Fridays strolling, families will be split on either side and there is an enclave of 50 homes that could be isolated, no access by car to their neighborhood, “he told Efe Sari Kronish, architect of the Israeli NGO Bimkom.
The lands were expropriated in the nineties, thirteen acres of the 250 occupied the village today, with a plan that included a road twelve feet wide and now it has become a way of between 50 and 180 meters wide, with six lanes and two miles long.
“Since the nineties we are fighting this. Israeli operatives arrived in 1995 and began to tear down olive trees, almond trees, vines and other trees, some of the olive trees 4,000 years. This was an oasis, but it turned into a dunghill” says Yadalah .
The popular and international pressure got to stop works until five months ago, when the bulldozers came back and opened and a huge channel for the highway in the center of the quiet village.
Explains that Beit Safafa Kronish is not a case of neighbors who do not want a road passing through their lands, for several reasons, the first that the road is built on territory occupied by Israel and has as its object not serve the working population but Jewish settlers living in settlements around Hebron and Bethlehem.
“It will connect Highway 60 and the colonies of Modin Illit and Givat Zeev settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. Likely that the project is part of the attempt to strengthen the so-called ‘Greater Jerusalem’, which adds the colonies north and south as satellites of the city “, considered the architect.
Another problem is that it has passed a detailed urban plan, as should have been done, so that the neighbors could not object to the layout or not seek compensation for the loss of value of their land.
Just before Beit Safafa residents Golomb Jewish Quarter itself have had a detailed plan, so objected and managed changes to the route.
“The first thing you should ask is whether the road is necessary, because it is a plan for 30 years and maybe now there are other possibilities, like putting a tram. If it is necessary, the road must be buried in their wake by a population well. If I were a Jewish neighborhood, there would be discussion and make a tunnel, “said Kronish.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Municipality argues that the road “is a major highway that will cross Jerusalem without a single traffic light” and that “the residents of Beit Safafa will benefit from it and can enter easily and conveniently.”
Ribhe MUAF, view the works from their balcony, two hundred meters from the gate full of graffiti as “No to the Judaization”, “Outside the colonies” or “The City (of Jerusalem) is criminal.”
“The road will cut the people. Passes in front of my door but I can not enter or cross.’s Only for the settlers. What head fit?.’m Going to have to go to India to visit my brother who lives two blocks. How will I go to him?, what helicopter? “asks.
In this bitter neighbor also know that you will have a wall in front, the authorities defended as a measure against noise pollution, but in Palestine reminds others and enclosing walls that divide the population.
“The wall follows the same idea of others, Israel’s policy to believe that behind the wall there is no one” says Yadalah.
Another neighbor, Idyn Husain, a pizzeria employee, is also convinced that the project is more political than logistical and is intended to “control all of Jerusalem and its demographics change, make it a Jewish city.”
By Ana Cárdenes
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