Originally published in
By TZVI JOFFRE
JUNE 1, 2020 21:55
The chairman of east Jerusalem’s Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry called the move a “racist order” to destroy the only Palestinian industrial area in east Jerusalem
Some 200 Palestinian-owned industrial buildings in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of east Jerusalem are set to be evicted and demolished by order of the Jerusalem Municipality as part of plans to develop the “Silicon Wadi” development project.
The project includes plans to widen industrial, commercial and hospitality areas in east Jerusalem. Within a number of years, about 200,000 square meters of industrial zones, with an emphasis on hi-tech, will be built, along with 50,000 square meters of commercial space and another 50,000 square meters for hospitality services.
The “Silicon Wadi” project joins the government five-year plan to reduce socio-economic gaps and for economic development in east Jerusalem.
A statement by the Jerusalem Municipality added that this is one of the “most complicated” projects carried out in Jerusalem in the past few decades, with the aim of “bringing about change at both the municipal and national levels.”
The project aims to create about 10,000 quality employment places in east Jerusalem, strengthen trust between the population of east Jerusalem and the municipality and government, employ more east Jerusalem women and strengthen the status of the Israeli curriculum in east Jerusalem as a key to higher education and employment, according to the Municipality.
“We are taking an additional step on the way to actualize the historic plan in east Jerusalem, and bringing a huge message to the economy in Jerusalem in general and especially in the eastern part of the city, with an increased supply of hi-tech employment,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. “We will make sure to bring the leading companies in the market and the highest quality personnel in the east of the city here. We will work in full synchronization with the planning, employment and training officials, in order to truly revolutionize and create hope in the east of the city as well.”
The chairman of east Jerusalem’s Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kamal Obeidat, told the Palestinian WAFA news that the order was made by recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Committee and will demolish car repair shops, restaurants and other facilities.
Obeidat called the move a “racist order” to destroy the only Palestinian industrial area in east Jerusalem in order to build Israeli structures, according to WAFA.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem Municipality told The Jerusalem Post that business owners in the area had agreed to the plan and would be compensated.
On Saturday, two Palestinians from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber demolished their homes after being ordered to do so by the Jerusalem Municipality due to a lack of a construction permit, according to WAFA. On Friday, another family in Jebl Mukaber was also ordered to demolish their own home.
On Sunday, residents of Birayn, a small Palestinian village near the town of Yatta, located south of Hebron, were informed by Israeli authorities that five residential buildings and the building of the village’s council were going to be demolished, according to WAFA.
The demolitions were ordered due to a lack of construction permits. Birayn is located in Area C, under full Israeli military and civil control.
The demolitions in Jerusalem come amid heightened tensions in the city after Iyad al-Halak, 32, a Palestinian special needs student, was shot and killed by Border Police near the Old City on Saturday. Halak was a resident of Wadi al-Joz, where the demolitions are set to occur.
On Sunday, al-Aqsa reopened after being closed to worshipers since March and at least 11 Palestinians were arrested and banned from visiting the site for a week, according to WAFA. At least some of the arrests were carried out after Palestinians began shouting nationalistic slogans at Jewish visitors to the site.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner Club, over 750 Palestinians have been arrested in Jerusalem since the beginning of 2020.