'Anata, Ar-Ram, Atara, Bir Nabala, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Wed 12.3.08, Afternoon

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Daniela Y and Ivonne M (reporting).


Ar-Ram , Atara

We received extensive explanations regarding A-Ram and the purpose of
the Wall surrounding it from N', a prominent scholar who lives in the area.

On our way to Atara, crossing the Hizme checkpoint northward, we see clearly the Wall
surrounding A-Ram and the network of walls, "security" roads and
empty settler roads that precede the building of a new settlement (an article
on this new settlement was published by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz some days ago). This
new settlement will be built to the northeast of Neve
Yaacov, out of the municipal borders of greater Jerusalem, and will be
connected to the settlement of Adam.
After a short watch in Atara we go back to
A-Ram for an explanatory tour by N', a prominent scholar who lives in the area.

N' tells us that the wall surrounding A-Ram serves the purpose of land
expropriation. The infrastructure
that allows the land expropriation is comprised by roads, settlements, walls
and checkpoints. These four
elements work together towards the same purpose: limiting the movement of
Palestinians, putting large segments of land out of bounds and preventing
Palestinians from caring for the produce of the land, annexing the
"uninhabited" land to settlement tracks and expelling Palestinians
from Jerusalem. N' takes us on a tour from inside A-Ram,
of the wall surrounding the town.

Answering our question regarding the number of inhabitants in A-Ram N'
tells us that 2 or 3 years ago there were nearly 40,000 people living in the
town but since the building of the Wall thousands have moved back to East and
West Jerusalem or the part of Dahiat Al Barid that will remain outside of A-Ram Wall and with
direct access to Jerusalem. Many
streets in A-Ram seem like ghost streets; families have moved to Jerusalem and only come
back home on week-ends, when they don't have to move or travel to work so that
they don't have to cross the checkpoints.
The deserted and empty streets in A-Ram predict a more crowded East Jerusalem.
N' shows us parts of A-Ram that we usually don't visit during our shifts
and explains that in the West Bank villages municipal services are much better
than in these areas close to Jerusalem,
that have been totally impoverished by the Wall, where the infrastructure is
becoming worse and worse.
Jerusalemites who can afford it have moved to East
Jerusalem and those who do not, stay in A-Ram and go through
checkpoints several times a day. N'
believes that when the last section of the Wall is finished, also the week-end
homes will be abandoned.

A-Ram has become totally isolated from Jerusalem, to which it has been connected
from the first half of the past century.
Dahiat Al Barid was
established before 1967 for postal employees from Jerusalem. Neve Yaacov is a pre 1948 settlement that was abandoned and
destroyed in 1948 and became part of Jordan and the land is mostly part
of Hizme, Bet Hanina and
. To explain how the Wall
affects the lives of thousands of students and the future of the community, N'
shows us the Palestinian Vocational School, also called the Arab Orphan School
which is the most important vocational school established in the 1950's and
serving A-Ram's, BirNaballah's ,
Ramallah's and other enclaves' youngsters. The school
has remained outside of the A-Ram Wall and thus is out of bounds for Palestinian
youngsters who badly need a vocational education. For Jerusalemites, this is only an
additional vocational school, among others.

The new expansion plan that will unite the land belonging to A-Ram, JabbaDahiat Al-Barid and , at the north-east of Neve Yaacov, with the Adam settlement, exemplifies how the Wall,
supposedly erected to protect Israelis is actually serving to stop all
population expansion of Palestinian towns.
N' says that if the security of Pisgat Zeev
residents were the issue, the Wall would have been built around it. But the purpose, clear today, is land

N says that the issue of giving Palestinians a footing in Jerusalem – a basic demand for the 2 state solution - could be solved by connecting A-Ram from the east
to Hizme and Anata and this
would provide an eastern open gate for Palestinian expansion and a passage to Jerusalem. However, the Wall effectively stops this
and in fact makes each small town an unsustainable, closed unit, disconnected
from Jerusalem.
E-1 plan is another example of this closureinfo-icon of East
Jerusalem to Palestinians, as is road No. 1: all land east of Road
No. 1, from Damascus Gate to Neve Yaacov,
was confiscated when the road was built.

We ask N' to corroborate the information we gave on our reports of 6.2.08
and 10.2.08 that the pressure from the Vatican
made the IDF remove the barbed wire and the planned barrier near the Rosary School
in Dahiat Al Barid. He tells us that, in fact, it was the
threat of going to the Supreme Court that made the IDF remove
the barbed wire around a few buildings and the Rosary School
at the southern-most end of A-Ram. So
we correct: The neighbors got organized and employed a lawyer and it was that,
and not the pressure from the Vatican,
that got the barbed wire removed.