Pictures: the Israeli authorities continue to punish the residents of Bilal neighborhood in Ras Al-Amoud
August 10, 2016

The residents of Bilal neighborhood in Ras Al-Amoud in the village of Silwan continue to suffer from the closure of the main street in their neighborhood where the occupation authorities placed cement blocks nearly two years ago. Neglecting streets in terms of cleaning and paving is also an issue despite the fact that the residents are committed to paying all the taxes imposed on them.

The residents of Bilal neighborhood filed several claims to the Israeli authorities regarding the damages caused due to closing the street with cement blocks and the difficulty they face while travelling; they requested to reopen the street.

Jamil Qunbar, a resident, said: “The Israeli authorities closed one of the main streets with cement blocks nearly two years which forced the locals to take long alternative roads to reach their homes. It also created heavy traffic jams in the non-eligible streets.”

Qunbar added that the population of the neighborhood is around 700 people. He said that the Israeli authorities recently moved the cement blocks to allow pedestrians to go through.

In regards to the Israeli authorities’ negligence of the needs of the neighborhood, Qunbar said that the locals are paying all the taxes imposed on them by the Israeli authorities (property tax, water and taxes) but they keep on raiding the neighborhood every now and then and forces residents to pay amounts of money under the pretext of “accumulation of unpaid debt. The residents complained about the lack of enough dumpsters and also said there is a mountain their area that urgently needs a supporting wall; three vehicles recently had accidents in the area of the mountain.

The residents appealed for all human rights organization to put pressure on the Israeli authorities to reopen the street and remove the cement blocks for good especially that schools are about to start again and traffic will worsen. They also added that Special Forces and borders control individuals are stationed near the cement blocks and deliberately provoke the residents especially children and the youth by stopping them, checking their IDs and searching them.

Closing roads with cement blocks is part of the collective punishment policy practiced against Jerusalemites in the city of Jerusalem and aim to isolate the neighborhoods from one another.