More than three quarters of the residents of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods – 75.3 percent of the total and 82.2 percent of children – live below the poverty line, according to a report released by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Monday.
The annual Facts and Figures Report, released ahead of Jerusalem Day, surveyed the situation in eastern Jerusalem and found “a frightening picture of poverty, blight, and neglect.”
According to the report, the area’s population comprises slightly more than one third of the city’s residents, while only 14 percent is zoned for residential construction.
The report also stated that, since 1967, one third of all Arab-owned land in Jerusalem was “confiscated” and used to build tens of thousands of homes for Jewish residents. In addition, some 35% of zoned areas in Arab neighborhoods were designated as “open landscape areas” upon which it is forbidden to build.
The report also cited “difficulties” with regard to fresh water access and a “dire shortage” of some 50 kilometers of sewerage pipes in the eastern part of the capital. “In the absence of appropriate sewerage, the residents are forced to use septic tanks that repeatedly flood, resulting in a host of public hazards,” the report stated.
With regard to the construction of 142 km of the security barrier, the report cited that “the closure of checkpoints and a policy of requiring entry permits have cut east Jerusalem off from the rest of the West Bank and led to a weakening in the social and economic conditions of residents.”
According to the report, more than 100,000 residents of the neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Shahada, Dahyat a-Salam, the Shuafat refugee camp, Kafr Aqeb, and Samiramis were cut off from the rest of Jerusalem by the barrier, and have “suffered from abject neglect ever since.”
“Despite the fact that the neighborhoods are located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem in an area that was annexed by the State of Israel, they do not receive even the most basic services. There are only three schools operating in the area; there is no garbage collection; no playgrounds, street lamps, or sidewalks; many roads are unpaved or not maintained, and public transportation is sparse,” the report stated.
With regard to education, the report stated that only 53 percent of Palestinian students attend public schools, in part due to a shortage of more than 2,000 classrooms. The report also noted that while all children over the age of three are entitled to a free education, only six percent of east Jerusalem children between the ages of three and four attend public preschools, due to a shortage of some 400 classrooms.