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Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh under threat, facing expansion of settlements
Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh under threat, facing expansion of settlements
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Occupied Jerusalem, ALRAY - Israeli separation wall has cut Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh town into pieces, swallowing 637 dunams of its lands, forcing Palestinian residents to abandon farming and herding, and seek work in other sectors to support their families.

Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh lies to the southeast of occupied Jerusalem, at a distance of 3 km. Like other towns and neighborhoods in Jerusalem, it is subject to relentless Israeli attacks, exacerbating the suffering of its residents and tightening the grip on them, in a move that paves the way for its separation from its Palestinian surroundings.


Before the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, its population was approximately 4,208 Palestinians, belonging to 12 different Bedouin tribes. During the 1967 war, around 490 individuals were displaced, and most of them moved to live in Jordan. Today, their number has reached around 8,000, with approximately 3,500 of them holding Israeli identity cards.


The Israeli authorities seized around 1,000 dunams of its land to establish the "Kidar" settlement east of the town, which is now inhabited by 960 settlers. Additionally, there is the "Kalya" settlement located on its land near the Dead Sea, inhabited by 300 settlers. Furthermore, 1,986 dunams were confiscated to establish an Israeli military base.


Last week, Israeli occupation authorities demolished nine homes, agricultural structures, and water tanks belonging to Bedouin communities residing in the Badia Al-Sawahreh area, without prior warning.


Issa Jaafar, the mayor of Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh, has accused the Israeli occupation authorities of deliberately targeting the town and its inhabitants. He explained that these actions include frequent demolition operations, confiscation of lands, and the expansion of settlements within its territory. According to Jaafar, significant portions of land have been seized to facilitate the establishment of new settlements, leading to a worsening situation for the town's residents.


Mayor Jaafar revealed that Israeli settlers have recently started the establishment of a new settlement outpost in an area known as Satih al-Ghazaleh, located at the main entrance to the town. The outpost spans an estimated area of approximately 250 dunams. Settlers have already set up platforms for a theater and children's playground, and construction activities are still ongoing.


He added that the wilderness lands of Sawahreh, which extend from the town to the Dead Sea, covering an area of 70,000 dunams, are all under the threat of confiscation for the purpose of further settlement expansion.


Israeli occupation's intention in constructing the new settlement outpost is to establish a connection between the existing settlements of Kidar and Bouaz, located on the lands of Abu Dis and Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh, to the east of Jerusalem. This move is aimed at achieving further integration and expansion of Israeli presence in the region.

Jaafar emphasizes that through settlement expansion and demolitions, the Israeli occupation aims to forcibly displace the local residents, seize their lands, isolate the municipality of Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh from its surroundings, and prevent any communication between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. These actions ultimately aim to eliminate any possibility of establishing a future Palestinian state.


 The mayor's statements shed light on the ongoing challenges and struggles faced by the Palestinian communities in the region amid the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The residents of Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh are facing significant challenges, including severe infrastructure deficiencies and overcrowding. These difficulties are exacerbated by the Israeli occupation authorities' stubbornness in granting construction permits, ongoing land confiscations, and their restrictions on building or cultivating the land with trees. The situation has led to a scarcity of suitable living conditions and limited opportunities for development and growth in the town. The issue reflects the broader struggles and hardships experienced by Palestinian communities under the occupation, impacting their daily lives and aspirations for a better future.


Jaafar emphasizes the urgent need for the rehabilitation of the town's infrastructure, maintenance of the water network, and the paving of the main road within the town.


The separation wall has also isolated the town and its residents from the center of Jerusalem and the neighboring neighborhoods. This isolation has hindered urban and natural development for the citizens, affecting development plans and infrastructure initiatives. Moreover, it has weakened the town's economy, which relied on markets in Jerusalem, resulting in a decrease in employment opportunities. The wall's presence has had far-reaching consequences, significantly impeding the overall growth and progress of Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh and imposing numerous challenges on its people.


Israeli occupation authorities impose restrictions on the movement of residents through a military checkpoint established at the entrance of the town. This checkpoint prohibits the movement of villagers between neighboring villages, allowing only Palestinians residing in west Sawahreh and Jabal al-Mukaber, as well as those with permits, to pass. Such measures have had detrimental effects on their daily lives, creating obstacles for them to access essential healthcare and educational services. The limitations on movement have resulted in negative implications, severely impacting the quality of life and opportunities available to the residents of East Sawahreh.


Jaafar , mayor of Al-Sawahreh al-Sharqiyeh called on human rights organizations, all Palestinian entities, and the international community to urgently intervene and put an end to the Israeli occupation's attacks on the citizens, demolitions of homes, and settlement expansion in the town. This plea for intervention reflects the dire situation faced by the residents and emphasizes the need for collective efforts to address and mitigate the challenges posed by the ongoing occupation and its detrimental impact on the community's well-being and rights.