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Development of Atarot threatening Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem

Thursday, 23 June 2016 20:37
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Rami-Levy

Al-Haq has documented increased pressure by the Jerusalem municipality on residents and business owners in Beit Hanina located near the Israeli settlement of Atarot. Local Palestinians have linked the increase in inspections and fines to the construction of a new “Rami Levy” supermarket[1]  and shopping complex in the settlement.[2]

In one case, the owner of a carwash located in Beit Hanina is constantly visited by the Jerusalem Municipality and given fines for lack of permits. The owner of the carwash, Nidal Shweiki, told Al-Haq:

“There is a street between the car wash and the settlement…I have rented the land in Beit Hanina since 2009 from the owner, and began applying for permits shortly thereafter…I have registered my employees with Israel’s social security system and pay taxes. Even after doing these things, no permit has been issued…After construction started on the Rami Levy, the Jerusalem Municipality started to come and give notices for demolition and confiscation orders. In a two month period, I was given 9 fines of 475 shekels each. The municipal employee told me ‘you will keep getting fines, and not receive a permit. I am going to make sure you don’t receive a permit.’” [3]

A homeowner located next to the carwash and also across the street from the “Rami Levy” project also highlighted increased visits by the Jerusalem Municipality, resulting in her having to self-demolish part of her home. 

“My husband began to renovate the house into two sections, one for me and my kids, and another for his father and his wife…he began to build two new rooms…each room was about 20 meters, and cost about 100,000 NIS. I didn’t apply for a building permit with the Jerusalem Municipality, because I know they don’t grant permits anyways.. and I was also pregnant with triplets and very excited, although fatigued and in pain. Almost a year ago, with the start of the “Rami Levy” project, the Jerusalem Municipality began to increasingly monitor us, and issued a demolition order for the two rooms for building without a permit. Although we hired an attorney which cost nearly 10,000 NIS, the court issued a demolition order on 12 January 2016 giving us until 12 April 2016 to demolish…On 4 April 2016 I heard noise outside, but thought it was part of the construction work at Rami Levy. When I opened my door, I saw Israeli Special Forces with a huge bulldozer. They came to demolish the two rooms, and said they would charge a 70,000 NIS fine…I called two Palestinians who work nearby and asked them to help me demolish (to avoid the fine)…Thousands of meters can be built for the new Rami Levy project in the settlement, but I as a Palestinian can’t build two rooms in my house.”[4]

These cases both highlight the precarious position of countless Palestinians in East Jerusalem that face demolition or confiscation of their property due to Israel’s discriminatory building and planning system.[5]  Al-Haq is concerned that Palestinian residents and business owners in Beit Hanina and nearby areas will continue to be targeted by the Jerusalem Municipality as Atarot settlement develops.

Al-Haq further calls attention to the severe impact that the “Rami Levy” project will have on local residents, as already seen by the aforementioned cases, and the economy as a whole. Because Israeli authorities rarely issue building permits for Palestinians, individuals living in East Jerusalem neighborhoods near Atarot, like Beit Hanina and Shu'fat, do not and will not have comparable large retail facilities. [6]  Smaller businesses will likely be unable to compete with the settlement mall.  Al-Haq reminds business owners that businesses benefiting from Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, and the violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that it propagates, may be found complicit in aiding and abetting these violations even where they do not positively assist in orchestrating the abuse.



Who Profits, “Rami Levi Chain Stores Hashikma Marketing 2006,” http://www.whoprofits.org/company/rami-levy-chain-stores-hashikma-marketing-2006

[2] First Supermarkets, Then Cell Phones, Now Rami Levy is Developing Malls, 3 June 2013, Haaretz, available at http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-1.527411

[3] Al-Haq Affidavit 2016/347 taken on23 April 2016. Al-Haq spoke with Nidal on 22 June 2016, and he stated that the municipal employee has come numerous times in June and has continued to issue fines.

[4] Al-Haq Affidavit 2016/346 taken on 18 April 2016.

[5] See East Jerusalem: Exploiting Instability to Deepen the Occupation, p.3-4, 3 December 2015, Al-Haq, available at http://www.alhaq.org/publications/Special.Focus.on.jerusalem.pdf

[6] Tycoon Rami Levy eyes shopping mall for Israeli settlers, Electronic Intifada, 18 June 2013, available at https://electronicintifada.net/content/tycoon-rami-levy-eyes-shopping-mall-israeli-settlers/12534

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