The Shua’fat Refugee Camp
On Friday as part of my orientation for the fellowship I’m doing we took a tour of East Jerusalem, the Separation wall, and the demographic ‘facts on the ground’ ie neighborhoods and settlements that form the obstacles to a ‘final status’ agreement. We saw houses occupied by Jewish settlers, land zoned for new settlements, major established settlements that formed wedges to disrupt Palestinian demographic contiguity of the land. The tour was run by Ir Amim, City of Nations, a NGO that does work regarding the status of Jerusalem and the different neighborhoods that make up Jerusalem’s ethnic diversity. One of the most compelling aspects was that of Shuafat.
A refugee camp established by Jordan in 1966 to settle Palestinian refugees from Asqelan/Ashkelon who had settled in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Shuafat refugee camp was conquered in 1967 by Israel and subsequently was annexed into the greater Jerusalem area. It currently forms one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the city and is walled in by the Separation Barrier and access is through a heavily guarded checkpoint. There is little basic infrastructure, such as trash collection, so piles accumulate and are burned.
This photo was taken from Pisgat Ze’ev, the Israeli settlement/neighborhood on the other side of the valley from the camp. Pisgat Ze’ev has gardens, sidewalks, playgrounds, and infrastructure, and the residents complain about having to look at Shuafat, and get reminded that there are Arabs indigenous to the region.