Occupying land, not people

The Guardian runs an article looking at how the Israeli reshaping of Jerusalem is affecting Arab residents.

Some excerpts:
Jerusalem came to the unsuspecting people of Nu'man in 1967 as an imaginary line across their hamlet's parched, rock-studded hills far beyond the city. In the wake of Israel's drubbing of the Arab armies in the Six Day war and occupation of the West Bank, the conquerors drew a wide arc deep into Palestinian territory and declared it the new boundary of the Jewish state's "eternal and indivisible capital".

It hardly mattered to the bemused villagers even when Israeli bureaucrats, out of incompetence or malice, declared Nu'man's houses inside this new greater Jerusalem, but said its people were residents of the West Bank.

Altogether, almost 50 miles of fence and wall will carve through the city's Arab neighbourhoods and the occupied territories declared to be part of Jerusalem. It will force children from about 30 schools to find new ones, divide families that used to live just a couple of minutes' walk apart and separate tens of thousands of people from their work.

"This is the greatest change to Jerusalem, and the way it will function, since Israel occupied the east of the city in 1967," said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer fighting a legal action against the Jerusalem section of the barrier. "East Jerusalem is a living organism that relies on its connections to the West Bank to survive. The wall is severing those arteries."

To the north of the city, about 24,000 Palestinians will be ghettoised as the fence surrounds a neighbourhood that will be on the Jerusalem side of the barrier but whose residents do not have permission to enter the city. To the south, the barrier already divides Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and part of Bethlehem from itself.

The Israelis say the villagers are living there illegally because they only moved to the area during the 1980s.

The claim infuriates Yusuf Dirawi. He says his family has lived there for generations, first in caves with their sheep and then in tents before the first solid houses were built around 50 years ago. He gestures to stone housing with construction dates in the 1950s carved above the door. Aerial pictures of the area show that the village was well established by 1967.

"How can they say we haven't lived here all these years?" Mr Dirawi asked. "They only have to look around. It's obvious. But they don't want to see."

...Jerusalem's chief administrative officer, Eitan Meir, has written to B'Tselem saying that Nu'man's residents belong to a clan from Bethlehem and therefore their homes in Nu'man were only "temporary".
Democracy in action.

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