Monday, November 30, 2020

Illegal Israeli permanent structures continue to be built in the Old City of Jerusalem

By Elizabeth Jenkins - February 27, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [checkpoints]

A checkpoint in Damascus Gate has now been installed, whilst the construction of the Museum of Beit HaLiba has begun. Both installations are in occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem and further undermine the 'status quo’ arrangements.

Jerusalem’s Old City was inscribed on UNESCO’s endangered world heritage list in 1996. UNESCO have repeatedly condemned Israel’s persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem.
The locations of both illegal constructions are significant, as Damascus Gate is the main gate to the Muslim Quarter in the Old City and the Museum of Beit HaLiba is to be located a few hundred metres of what is known as the Wailing or Western Wall to Jews, and Buraq Wall to Muslims.
“The checkpoint and the museum can be understood within the wider framework of the Israeli attempt to change how the city looks and to erase Palestinian presence and history,” commented Nada Awad, from the Community Action Centre based in the Old City.
A new “security strategy” was approved in June 2017 for the Damascus Gate area. According to Israel’s Channel 2, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated he would like to see it turned into a “sterile area”.
“The checkpoint is a way of saying, 'we Israelis are under permanent attacks, we need to defend ourselves’. They then use security as the justification for constructing permanent structures and changing the reality on the ground,” Awad continued.
Redesigning the Old City – whether through security or cultural installations – in order to reflect the Israeli narrative and erase Palestinians has indeed been a strategy pursued by Israel since 1967.
Many techniques are employed in order to do this, including renaming the streets. Apart from the demographic project which seeks to impose a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, there is also the cultural strategy which seeks to use archaeology and heritage in order to reinforce the Zionist political narrative.
“The construction of the Museum of Beit HaLiba is part of the project to create a tourist zone under settler and Israeli governmental control and to change the status quo in Jerusalem”, explained Awad. “Archaeology and heritage become tools to consolidate power and hegemonic control over Jerusalem.”
Awad added: “Other projects include the two-line cable cart, the Liba house project, the visitor centre which Israel plans to create next to the wall, the Strauss Building, the elevator in Al-Burak plaza. They are all symptomatic of the use of political tourism as a tool of propaganda.”
Beit HaLiba is to have three floors and cover an area of 2825 squared metres. It is to include a festival hall, a library, a religious educational room, an auditorium and a balcony on the roof overlooking the Old City.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported on Feb. 13, according to their investigations, “the Israeli authorities settled a crane and other equipment in the location designated for establishing the above-mentioned settlement project.”
PCHR condemned the move as “a serious violation of the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to the city”, noting that it would, “seriously distort and change the city’s historical characteristics as part of the Israeli plans to completely Judaize the city.”

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