Municipality of Al-Aizaria organized a field tour fora number of diplomatic representatives in Palestine
the town of Al-Aizaria, east of Jerusalem. These officials were Marina Librado and Queralt Pi, from the
Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development; Claire Dabin and Jeff Kridee, from the
European Union; Julio Escobedo; from the Mexican Embassy in Palestine; and Christian Küsters, from
the German Representative Office in Ramallah.
At the beginning, the delegation was received at the Headquarters of Al-Aizaria Municipality, where the
Mayor, Mr. Khalil Abu Al-Rish, gave a welcoming speech to the delegation and stressed the importance
of this activity in order to raise awareness on the condition of the town – namely,the besieged state of
Al-Aizaria, the Israeli practices of land confiscation, and the isolation of the town from the city of
Jerusalem – that the participants were able to witness first-hand.
The Director of Planning Projects Unit and Public Relations Officer, Amani Abu Zayyed, subsequently
gave a detailed explanation of the town's conditions through a presentation laying out the multiple
challenges and struggles the town is confronted with, and answered the delegation's questions.
A field tour was then carried out in the old town of Al-Aizaria, and the delegation went to see the
apartheid wall that separates the town from Jerusalem, which led to the isolation of many families from
each other. The town’s economic and collective reality was explained to the participants. Indeed, this
town – which is located only 3 km away from the center of Jerusalem – was historically part of the city of
Jerusalem and administratively connected to the old city.Nowadays, because oftheSeparation Wall, it
has become completely isolated and surrounded by a wall that runs through the residential
neighborhoods, andis responsible for serious curtailment of freedom of movement, in particular
towards Jerusalem, for Palestinian citizens of Al-Aizaria. As things stand today, students of the town are
prevented from studying in Jerusalem schools, as was the case in the past, and, even more concerning,
ambulance have to be granted permission to bring citizen in vital distress to Jerusalem – an
authorization that is way too often denied by Israelis. The delegation members actively took part to the
tour by made remarks and inquiries about the impact of this wall and the possible avenues for actions in
order to bring about improvement on the short term.
The delegation finally headed to the Jabal al-Baba area, east of Al-Aizaria, where they were received by
the Head of the Bedouin community, Mr. Atallah Mazaraa, who gave a detailed explanation of the
reality of this community, which is threatened with displacement and land confiscation for the benefit of
settlement projects in the area. It must be emphasized that this community – which includes 70 families,
about 450 people – has been subjected to house demolitions for years, and a decision was made to
deport the community, issuing eviction orders to its residents. But the community stood its ground and
has refused to comply with the implementation of this decision through legal objection, and popular
resistance to confront it.
Mazaraa pointed out that the issue of Jabal al-Baba enjoys strong international sympathy, demonstrated
through the visits of international delegations in solidarity with the population as well as the formation
of an international committee – comprised of human rights activists, institutions, social movements and
international human rights defenders – for the defense of the community and the rejection of the Israeli
Amani Abu Zayyed explained that should the displacement decision be implemented, it would mean the
confiscation of large areas of land belonging to the town of Al-Aizariaor its residents, and would further
smother the town from the eastern and northern sides –adversely affecting the possibility for urban
expansion of the town, compounding the already existing state of overcrowding in Al-Aizaria, and
depriving future generations of expansion option over a land that they own.
Finally, we would like to thank the Municipality of Barcelona for its financial support and for making this
Ahmad Jaradat: Alternative Information Center – Palestine