JERUSALEM - The only Palestinian industrial area in East Jerusalem is to be demolished, and the present occupiers of the buildings are to be evicted.
The destruction of the Palestinian industrial infrastructure is to make way for an extension of the Silicon Wadi project. The new area in east Jerusalem will be known as Silicon Wadi Neighborhood. "Wadi" according to Wikipedia is the Arabic word for a valley or dry river bed, also commonly used in colloquial Hebrew.
The move has brought widespread criticism from Palestinian officials.
"Israel's focused and systematic plunder of occupied Jerusalem persists unabated, in violation of international law and proclaimed positions of states worldwide," the well known human rights activist and Palestinian legislator and scholar Hanan Ashrawi has said in a statement carried by The Jerusalem Post.
"In addition to a sharp increase in home demolitions and the displacement of many families in Jerusalem during the COVID-19 pandemic, the illegal Israeli 'municipality' has unveiled its plans to demolish the decades-old Palestinian industrial area in the Wadi Al-Joz neighborhood and replace it with a gentrified settler neighborhood with the flashy name of "Silicon Wadi."
Israel's Jerusalem Municipality is planning to confiscate 300,000 square metres of Palestinian land, two thirds of which will be dedicated to industrial developments, principally in the high-tech sector - modelled on Silicon Valley. A further 50,000 square metres will be used for the construction of office buildings, and another 50,000 square metres for dozens of hotels, which will be required to accommodate the corporate travel requirements of those employed and doing business with the Silicon Wadi Neighborhood infrastructure.
"We are taking another step toward implementing a historic plan in the east of the city and bringing huge economic news to Jerusalem in general and eastern Jerusalem in particular, by increasing employment in high-tech," Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was quoted as saying by jns (Jewish News Service), adding that 10,000 jobs will be created as a result of the development.
"We will ensure that we bring in leading companies and the best manpower in east Jerusalem. We will coordinate fully with planning, employment, and training bodies to create a true revolution and create hope in east Jerusalem," the Jerusalem mayor said.
This however did not sway Ashwari.
"This is an outrageous and criminal plan that will devastate 200 Palestinian businesses in the area and deprive thousands of Palestinians of their sources of livelihood. It is a massive scheme that brings Israel's displacement and replacement policy against the Palestinian people into sharp focus, especially in Jerusalem," she said. "In this connection, we warn companies that they will be held legally and financially responsible for any direct or indirect engagement in this illegal enterprise, in line with international law."
"In addition to the physical mass displacement of Palestinians from Jerusalem, Israel continues to enact its racist demographic engineering tactics. Namely, Israel has renewed its ban of Palestinian family reunification for the eighteenth year," Ashrawi asserted. "This policy tears thousands of Palestinian families apart and imposes the impossible choice on thousands of Jerusalemites of choosing between their families, and their right to live in their ancestral hometown, Jerusalem."
"These concerted illegal Israeli actions in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank continue because the international community has yet to muster the moral and political courage to make Israel bear the consequences of such grave violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute," Ashrawi said.
"This requires the ICC to act swiftly and to start its investigation to apply its mandate to curb Israeli violations and to bring Israel to compliance with law. Without accountability, Israel will continue to implement its colonial project of creating 'Greater Israel' on all of historical Palestine, trampling on the universal values of human rights and condemning the region to endless conflict and strife," Ashrawi added.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem Municipality was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post that business owners in the area had agreed to the plan and would be compensated.
(Photo credit: Moshe Shai | Flash90).