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20,000 children separated from families in occupied Jerusalem

Israel denies children a right to live in holy city if one of their parents is not a resident

Gulf News

Ramallah: The Islamic Christian Commission for the Support of occupied Jerusalem has accused Israel of separating 20,000 Palestinian children from their families by denying them permission to live with their families in occupied East Jerusalem.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Hanna Eisa, who heads the commission, said that in denying the Palestinian children the right to live with their families, Israel is engaged in a clear act of ethnic cleansing of the holy city. “Those kids have also been denied the right to obtain permanent residency to unite with their families in the holy city,” he said.

Eisa said that children of residents of the holy city are given the permanent residency in the city, but in the event one of the parents was not a long-term resident of the city, that parent and the children are denied the right to even obtain residency or identity cards.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later annexed it as its “eternal capital” in a move that was rejected by the international community. Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem are given special Israeli-issued identity documents that are distinct from those of West Bank Palestinians.

“Thousands of [occupied] Jerusalem men and women are married to West Bankers, and such parents face a lifetime of troubles in attempting to live with their children in the holy city,” he said. “Israeli governments have stripped those children of their right to live with their parents in [occupied] Jerusalem and in many cases, this has forced the parents to move to the West Bank to achieve family unification,” he added. “That is the real Israel objective — forcing the Palestinian families out of the holy city,” he said.

“Israel is clearly implementing a systematic strategy based on making [occupied] Jerusalem a Jewish city and is seeking to empty it of its original Palestinian inhabitants,” he said.

Eisa warned about a serious drop in the Palestinian population in the city of occupied Jerusalem including its east and west parts. “The current population of the city of [occupied] Jerusalem is a million people where only a quarter of them is Palestinian,” he said. “Israel imposes strict and fascist conditions on the resident Palestinians in order for them to preserve their identity cards and the right to live in the holy city. “

If a Palestinian resident of occupied Jerusalem does not live at his home for three years and pay the Israeli property tax known as ‘Arnona’, he will have his identity cards revoked.

Eisa warned about the increasing number of revoked identity cards from Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. “A total of 4,577 identity cards have been revoked by the Israeli Interior Ministry in the past year, 2012,” he said.

Eisa said that the high taxes imposed on the Palestinian residents have forced huge numbers of them to move to West Bank cities.

“In the year 2000, there were 10,982 Palestinian Christian residents in occupied Jerusalem. Now, only 5,000 of them remain in occupied Jerusalem after more than half of the Christian residents moved to other West Bank cities or immigrated outside Palestine to spare themselves the unbearable Israeli taxes imposed on the Arab residents of the holy city,” he said.

“Israel imposes volunteer immigration on the Christian residents from the holy city,” he said. “Israel does not want Christianity in the middle of the struggle between Judaism and Islam,” he stressed.

Eisa warned that the Israeli practices in occupied Jerusalem do not match with the international law which prohibits the occupation forces from dismissing the original residents from their areas and neighbourhoods. Israel on the other hand, gives Jewish colonists the right to live wherever they want in the holy city without any kind of restrictions and without the high taxes imposed on the Palestinians.