Israel Begins Work on National Park on Jerusalem’s Issawiya Land

JERUSALEM, March 10, 2015 (WAFA) – The Jerusalem Municipality Tuesday razed vast areas of land owned by Palestinian families in the Issawiya neighborhood in central Jerusalem for the benefit of establishing a national park for Israeli settlers residing illegally in the area, according to witnesses and WAFA’s Jerusalem correspondent.

Sources said that a large Israeli force stormed the village accompanied with bulldozers and cordoned off the area before proceeding to level large areas of land to carry out the work on a previously announced plan to establish a national park on land that runs between Issawiya and Tur neighborhood, also known as, Mountain of Olive.

The Israeli police units prevented media crews from accessing the site.

Marwan Obaid, one of the land owners, told WAFA that bulldozers accompanied with a staff from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and from the West Jerusalem municipality, under Israeli forces protection, razed the land without prior notice.

Israeli bulldozers further demolished poultry coops and retaining walls belonging to the families of Obaid, Badryeh, and Dari. Forces prevented the owners from emptying the coops before demolishing them.

On May 18, 2014, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved a new master plan to build a ‘national park’ on the lands of two Palestinian villages, Issawiya and Tur, in the occupied East Jerusalem. The plan will confiscate approximately 700 dunums from the two villages, said the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah.

Adalah and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, in coordination with the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, submitted an objection to the plan in April 2013, said the center.

Adalah said that the National Park plan comes alongside another plan to confiscate more than 500 dunams from Issawiya and another town, Anata, to establish a landfill site and an underground infrastructure network.

The center stressed that, “The objectors added that the plan is a serious violation of the Palestinian people’s rights to land ownership and dignity. Further, it prevents them from developing their surroundings and confiscates their resources, which are vital to their planning and economic needs.”