Israeli officials visited the Sumoud Tent Camp in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Siwane this morning around 10 am in preparation for the eviction of the approximately 50 Palestinian families who have lived on the site since August 1997. The families, who are poor and have no place else to live, are at the center of a protest against Israeli policies aimed at the eviction of Palestinians from the city.
The mid-morning visit was the second such visit in two days. Officials took measurements of the site and surveyed the contents of the tents and tin shacks where the families live. They gave no indication of the exact date of eviction nor where the homeless families would moved, however it appears that the expulsion of the families along with their young children is imminent.
Several families joined the camp after their home had been demolished by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality. Others lack the financial means to continue to pay the rent of their original home. Many do not have valid documents, because the Israeli Interior Ministry confiscated their ID cards and/or refuses to register their children. Being "illegally" present in Jerusalem, many of the male camp dwellers cannot find employment, and whole families lack even basic health insurance.
At present the families of Sumoud Camp have few allies beyond those organizations and individuals concerned about Palestinian residency rights in Jerusalem. While the land on which the camp is located was provided by the Islamic Waqf, it appears that the Waqf has agreed to allow the construction of a center for the disabled by an organization named Ellwyn in exchange for a piece of property inside the Old City. The Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem, which has approved the construction of the center, is using the circumstances as a convenient cover to close the camp and evict its residents.
The Lobby for Palestinian Women’s Rights in Jerusalem has organized a solidarity presence at the camp on Saturday, February 28th, at 9:30 am to protest the closing of the camp and the eviction of the camp’s residents. Organizations and individuals are strongly encouraged to join the solidarity presence at the Sumoud Camp in the coming days to stand against the further eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem.