Saturday, November 19 2005 The Israeli government is turning the eastern neighborhoods in Jerusalem into the largest prison in the land.

The work on the eastern part of the wall – between East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim and the 1E area has begun. The result: 80,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem will be completely surrounded by walls and fences and will be cut off from the villages and cities of the West Bank. The villages of Al-Azaria, Abu Dis, Swachra A-Sharkia, and Shaich Sa’ad are slowly being closed on the western side by the separation wall, which is cutting them off from East Jerusalem’s city center. The government is now beginning to build the portion of the wall that is east of these villages. Simultaneously, thousands of dunams are being expropriated for the benefit of the surrounding settlements (Ma’ale Adumim and Kidar). In addition, hundreds of Bedouin families from the Jihalin and Swchre tribes that live in the area will be “moved” to the small strips of land remaining between the different fences. Thus, a new prison which will include 80,000 villagers – who live just fifteen minutes away from the center of Jerusalem – is to be erected. The Palestinians in this area suffer from not only fences, walls, and road blocks, which greatly impede their freedom of movement, but also from soaring unemployment (around 60%) and difficult health conditions. There is, for example, only one ambulance which serves the 10,000 residents of Swarche A-Sharkia, and this ambulance is always at the mercy of the “good will” of the soldiers at the roadblocks.