PRESS RELEASE: Jerusalem: Thursday, 6th March, 1997

Jahalin petition Israeli Government to build housing project on site of latest Palestinian refugee camp

Forty two Jahalin families have petitioned the Israeli High Court demanding that the State of Israel build them a housing project in place of the refugee camp which has been set up on the "alternative site" to which they have been expelled to allow for the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in occupied Palestinian territory.

The Jahalin Bedouin are now living in the latest Palestinian refugee camp created as a result of Israeli expansionism. After the Israeli forces deliberately destroyed all the dwellings of the Jahalin, and forcibly moved them to the "alternative site", the Jahalin are now homeless. The latest Palestinian refugee camp is on top of a hill exposed to the storms and raging winds without any of the amenities deemed necessary by the Israeli government for a Jewish housing project. There are no houses, no roads, no pavements, no street lights, no sanitary facilities and no garbage facilities. Some, but not all, of the families were given ship containers for their goods. Ship containers have no doors opening on the inside, no windows, no insulation, no ceilings, no lights, no toilets, no bathrooms, no kitchen, no living room and no bedrooms. In fact, a ship container is only a ship container, built to carry cargo. They are not even suitable for animals. All the UNRWA tents were blown down in the storms, and they are insufficient in this climate. None of the sack cloth tents withstood the winds and the rain either. The Jahalin are homeless and abandoned, suffering both physically and emotionally, as a result of deliberate Israeli government racist policy.

The Society of St Yves, through Advocate Lynda Brayer, has requested the High Court to subpoena the State of Israel to come and justify itself as to why they Bedouin should not be given decent housing, with a decent infrastructure, similar to that they have provided in Jewish Ma'ale Adumim. After all, the Israeli government saved money by not having to buy the land for Ma'ale Adumim because all it had to do was declare it "state land" thus saving itself the trouble of having to pay financial compensation to rightful Palestinian landowners.

In the meanwhile, the Jahalin have requested that the Israeli govenment supply caravans in order that the Jahalin may have some shelter over their heads.

According to international law, the Israeli government, as the military occupier of Palestine, remains responsible for those people who are forced to live under its military rule against their will. The creation of new refugees is a violation of the laws of war.

Society of St. Yves Catholic Human Rights Center
for Legal Resources and Development Jerusalem/Bethlehem
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