Press Releases

Israeli Municipality Postpones Eviction of Sumoud Tent Camp for 30 Days - Residency Rights Issues Remain Unresolved

BADIL Alternative Information Center 
For Immediate Release 
2 March 1998 


Israeli municipal officials have agreed to postpone the eviction of SUMOUD Camp residents for 30 days.  In exchange, Palestinian residents of the camp must dismantle their tents and wooden shacks.  The Islamic Waqf meanwhile has agreed to allow camp residents to relocate their "homes" on an adjacent piece of waqf property.  The threat of eviction, nonetheless, remains real until the residency rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites in the camp are secured. 

The crisis over the SUMOUD Camp arose when Jerusalem municipal officials decided to press forward with the construction of infrastructure for a new center for Palestinian disabled on the site of the camp to be run by the US-based human services organization Elwyn, Inc..  While Elwyn, which had negotiated the construction of the center with the waqf, was reportedly not ready to move forward with the project immediately for financial reasons, it appears the Municipality pushed the project forward with offers of financial assistance in order to provide a pretext for closing down the SUMOUD camp.  The Municipality also stands to acquire the use of 5 dunums of land for "public space" under Israeli zoning and licensing procedures. 

During the past week, Israeli authorities visited the SUMOUD tent camp in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Siwane several times in preparation for the eviction of the approximately 50 Palestinian families who have lived on the site since August 1997 to protest Israeli policies aimed at the eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem.  Several families joined the camp after their homes had been demolished by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality.  Others lack the financial means to continue to pay the rent of their original home.  Many do not have valid documents because the Israeli Interior Ministry confiscated their identity cards and/or refuses to register their children.  Being "illegally" present in Jerusalem, many of the male camp dwellers cannot find employment, and whole families lack even basic health insurance.  If the families move or are evicted to places outside the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality they risk losing their right to live in the city in which they were born. 

The Lobby for Palestinian Women's Rights in Jerusalem, a coalition of organizations which have supported the Camp, calls on all concerned persons to continue to apply pressure on Israeli authorities, Elwyn and the Orient House which has assumed responsibility for the camp, to ensure that the residency rights of the camp residents are secured and that the residents will not be evicted.  Faxes to Israeli officials should also protest policies - i.e. confiscation of identity cards, denial of family reunification and house demolitions which necessitated the establishment of the camp.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 972-2-566-4838; Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert, 972-2-629-7997.  Electronic mail: PM Netanyuhu, pm@pmo.gov.il; Mayor Olmert, jermstr@jerusalem.muni.il.  Israel Elwyn American Office, tel 610-891-2007, email: online@elwyn.org.  The Orient House, fax 972-2-628-6820. 

-----------

For more information on SUMOUD camp and the situation of Palestinians living in Jerusalem contact the Lobby at BADIL Alternative Information Center, Bethlehem, tel/fax 972-2-747-346, email badil@baraka.org; Jerusalem Center for Women, tel 972-2-574-7068, fax, 972-2-574-7069, email jcw@palnet.com; Palestine Human Rights Information Center, tel. 972-2-628-7076/7.