Another Israeli-only highway set to cut through East Jerusalem neighborhood brings protest

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Residents of Beit Safara march with torches to protest the highway that will divide their village in East Jerusalem Mar 7, 2013 (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Residents of occupied East Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood are marching again tonight, protesting the confiscation of privately owned Palestinian land from a densely populated area for the construction of yet another settler highway carving up their land.

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(Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The road will divide the heart of the neighborhood, separating residents from their mosque, bakery and primary school– and all to shorten the commute to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for Jewish settlers on the West Bank.

Mairav Zonszein  has a comprehensive report at +972, “A divided Palestinian neighborhood, torn in two by an Israeli highway“:

Beit Safafa, which has a population of just under 10,000, is now facing it’s third major bisection, this time by a highway being constructed by Israel that will literally cut through the neighborhood. Highway 4, or the Begin Highway, is a Jerusalem ring road intended to create one continuous stretch of highway from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of the city to the Givat Ze’ev settlement bloc in the north.

It would ultimately link the West Bank’s two most controversial highways: the Tunnel Road connecting Gush Etzion to Jerusalem in the south and Road 443, a.k.a. the Apartheid Highway, which routes settler traffic north of the city to Tel Aviv while denying access to Palestinians. The width of the road planned to cut through the neighborhood ranges from 33 to 78 meters. Part of it will exist as a six-lane highway and other parts could have as many as 10-11 lanes.

According to Ir Amim, which has published an excellent fact sheet on the issue, the municipality has found a way to bypass the necessary procedures that require public inclusion, making it impossible for Beit Safafa residents to formally object to the plans. As Nir Hasson recently reported for Haaretz:

The road is based on a general plan dating from 23 years ago, that the courts decided was detailed enough to enable construction to start. Under Israeli law, you can get compensation only if you prove that a specifically approved plan caused you damage. In this case, the villagers would have to have appealed against the plan back in 1990.

The highway will completely alter the character of this community.

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Residents of Beit Safara march with torches to protest the highway that will divide their village in East Jerusalem Mar 7, 2013 (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Prayers and protests have been ongoing

06 8456392162 1a11bb493a c(Residents of Beit Safafa pray on their lands in protest of the construction of a highway being built through their village, February 8, 2013. (Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Actiuvestills.org)

The construction of a highway that threatens to cut apart Beit Safafa is just one part of an acceleration of demolition orders, home demolitions and land confiscations sweeping East Jerusalem and other areas of the West Bank (as I reported last month).

Friday’s protest boiled over. Zonszein:  “activists reported that police exerted excessive force, using stun grenades gas, tasers and pepper spray, violently arresting eight people and injuring 10″

For more information and videos see her report  at +972.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Nakba, Occupation, Settlers/Colonists | Tagged

{ 18 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Cliff says:

    More Israeli colonialism.

    Why?

    Israelis have quiet. American Jews have luxury of being American and ‘Israeli’ from a distance.

    Meanwhile, Palestinians live under their boot.

    And us non-Jews have to listen to the gatekeepers whitewash, divert, dehumanize, and sling the antisemitism-canard.

    • seafoid says:

      More Israeli Jewish colonialism. The Palestinians in Israel get none of the benefits.

      There is something about the grandeur of the road. 11 lanes.
      The planners assume eternally available cheap oil.

      Zionism was built on petrol. And when that disappears I wonder how solid Israel will be. It’s a long way to Tipperary from the Kirya, you know. ..

      link to youtube.com

  2. Avi_G. says:

    Annie,

    Thanks for picking up this story.

    • thanks avi. i have been following it for awhile. then when mairav wrote her story a few days ago i got a little lost in her links and the map. Ir Amim’s fact sheet. when you look at the map..it puts it in perspective what they are doing, and the sham of using an old plan to prevent the people from appealing.it just stinks. all this coming down.it’s just horrendous. anyway, adam sent me a link/tweet today and i thought i might as well. each one of these incidents,and there are so many..they are all important. last month when i wrote the acceleration story there was hardly anything about this. they just arrived one day and started harassing people and started working on it. it happened so fast. the only people who wrote about was one of the little sites, i think it was on kate’s list. that’s where i first started noticing all these events piling up one after another. about raids and arrests. so i googled it. nothing. nothing! i don’t know if you opened the haaretz link mairav linked to, it’s really damning. really damning. and all the while this is going on (and in south hebron and these other villages all in sych)..they are arresting people left and right. it’s so gruesome. and they are saying the arrests are to prevent an intifada.

      anyway, it started as this tiny story at the beginning of february and now it’s ..those photos. it’s as if they are on speed. and i fear they are going to grab all the land on the other side for themselves..eventually. anyway, there’s so much to say sometimes it keeps me from saying anything. but i have been thinking about this little village a lot lately.

      • Avi_G. says:

        Thank you.

        What you’ve just described are the grains of sand that no one notices. Then when they walk on the beach, they finally realize how massive it is.

        What I’m getting at is that these events/incidents that seem non-consequential are usually the events that lead up to one massive event (Read: Intifada). Then everyone looks on with amazement and says, “Well, we had no idea. We really didn’t see this one coming”.

        But Israeli authorities see it all. They are causing it all.

        And that segues into what you wrote:

        .they are arresting people left and right. it’s so gruesome. and they are saying the arrests are to prevent an intifada.

        That’s the too-little-too-late reaction that authorities often engage in. We saw that with the Arab Spring. Dictators left and right started arresting people in the hope of quelling the proverbial rising tide, but not only were their efforts too-little-too-late (In terms of quelling the revolutions, at least), they exacerbated the unrest and turned out to be counter-productive, for the dictators.

        How long will these proverbial crests and troughs go on in the occupied West Bank is anyone’s guess.

        I just don’t see the Israeli leadership wising up over night and deciding to settle for a just and peaceful solution with the Palestinians. Israel has only hammers so everything looks like a nail.

        • Kathleen says:

          Reading Annie’s piece the escalation, the element of surprise, the arrest new apartheid road. Two state solution is over. And then the link that Hostage provided for us about how Israel may be able to avoid any accountability with the ICC for seven long years. Depressing. When you try to imagine what it has been like to deal with a systematic ethnic cleansing for so long..homes destroyed, confiscations, olive trees killed, daily humiliation, imprisonments, torture, more house bulldozed, journalist killed trying to get out the truth, non violent protest being attacked by violence, more killed, non violent protesters killed by Israel, infrastructure destroyed in Gaza all of this would make anyone want to take down the Israeli apartheid regime and that is what it is. The Palestinians are a strong strong people to be still standing after all of this

  3. seafoid says:

    The Begin highway to zionist hell. Begin drove to beirut once and lost his mind. When the settler empire collapses the damage will go far deeper.

  4. seafoid says:

    The Zionists know where they have been but they don’t know where they are going

  5. amigo says:

    Some good news.

    Netherlands calls on stores to label products from Israeli settlements
    Dutch follow British lead, but emphasize it is not illegal to import goods from territories. Other European countries expected to follow suit in coming weeks.

    Link. link to haaretz.com

  6. LATimes came out with a story, within an hr after we published!

    link to latimes.com

    “They are carving us up like a pizza,” said Alaa Salman, 39, a Beit Safafa resident whose home is 30 feet from the freeway route. “This is destroying Beit Safafa.”

    Salman said the freeway extension would prevent his family from easily reaching the mosque, market and school, and require them to use bridges to cross the roadway.

    Residents are asking Israel’s Supreme Court to halt construction while they try to persuade the city to reroute the freeway or build it underground.

    City officials say that they understand the residents’ concerns but that plans for the extension were approved in 1990 as part of a badly needed roads project to ease traffic in Jerusalem. Begin Expressway, which serves as a ring road around Jerusalem, is key to that effort, they say.

    In response to residents’ complaints, the city said it agreed to construct one section — about one-tenth of a mile — underground and build a 2-acre public park on top, with barbecue pits and fitness equipment. But constructing a tunnel for the entire stretch would cost too much and require the city to resubmit plans for approval, delaying the project for years, said Naomi Tzur, deputy mayor.

    • MK_Ultra says:

      You have got to marvel at the kind of planning, scheming and the evil that goes into these projects.

    • Blank State says:

      Of further note is the two opposing essays on today’s LA Times opinion section concerning Obama’s impending visit to the Jewish State. It is quite enilightening reading the measured common sense essay supporting the two state solution from the Shin Bet contributer, and then reading the religious zealotry from the jackass Israeli settler whose racism cannot be concealed behind his asinine attempt to claim historical ownership of recently stolen land. These religious zealot settlers are despicable beyond words.

  7. Chu says:

    I always questioned whether American Christians (say leaders like Pat Robertson) feel that having the ‘new’ Ashkenazi Israelis control all the lands (i.e. Jerusalem & Bethlehem), would it make these destinations more accessible for them to visit? Is there some agreement between between their alliance, where the new Jew is a caretaker and Bethlehem will be a nice tourist spot in 30 years for Christians.

  8. MK_Ultra says:

    It’s always good to see my American tax dollars at work in ISreal.

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    “We’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.” – Ariel Sharon to Winston Churchill III in 1973