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06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011




Nine children killed in Jerusalem bus crash was an accident waiting to happen

Abandoned in Jerusalem

Jerusalem city hall and Israel’s Education Ministry have an obligation to provide Jerusalem children with a decent education that endangers neither their lives or their future.

Yehudit Oppenheimer, director-general of the NGO Ir Amim, 2nd March 2012

See earlier post on this topic Palestinian children die, Israelis rejoice

The horrifying accident that took place near the Adam roadblock north of Jerusalem last month, in which six [sic] Palestinian children and their teacher were killed, and dozens of other children were injured, raises a great many questions. The racist remarks and the schadenfreude that were documented by visitors to the Facebook page of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the tragedy are indeed shocking. What is no less shocking is that the Prime Minister’s Bureau did not hasten to remove them. But the ongoing preoccupation with such reactions deflects attention from a much more substantive issue – the unbearable existential situation with which the residents of this section of Jerusalem are forced to contend on a daily basis and the way in which Israeli authorities completely ignore their living conditions.

It seems that Israel, which is quick to send emergency teams to any humanitarian disaster in the far reaches of the world, was in no hurry to help this time, when disaster struck in its backyard, on the road between the Adam and Qalandiyah roadblocks. This thoroughfare, contrary to the impression that the authorities tried to create, is in the heart of Area C, and thus under full Israeli administrative and security responsibility. But, despite the close proximity of the accident to several Israeli communities and to a military checkpoint – it took more than 20 minutes for emergency crews to arrive, by which point Palestinian passersby had extinguished the fire.

But even more serious questions need to be addressed, beyond the specific handling of the event itself, about the circumstances surrounding it. About half of the children in the bus, which caught fire after it was struck by a truck, were Jerusalem residents who live in the vicinity of the Shoafat refugee camp, in neighborhoods that are within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality. The building of the separation barrier nearly a decade ago left these neighborhoods outside of the fence and turned them into crowded and neglected enclaves, for which the authorities in general, and the Jerusalem municipality in particular, have relinquished responsibility.

As a result, the infrastructures and services in these neighborhoods – Shoafat camp, Dahiyat al-Salam, Ras Hamis, New Anata – in which more than 35,000 people live in unbearably crowded conditions, are on the verge of collapse. These neighborhoods have no emergency services whatsoever, neither medical first aid nor firefighting services. So when the children, pupils from a private school on their way to a school trip, were trapped in a burning bus, their communities could not dispatch even a single fire engine or medical crew to help them.

Moreover it must be asked why children of Jerusalem families, most of which have difficulties making ends meet, need to study in a private school outside the boundaries of the city. Have their parents really chosen to give them a private education, or is it because of the bitter truth that all these crowded neighborhoods are served by a single municipal primary school, and the conditions there – the structure is a former sheep pen, and is close to what was until recently an operating and polluting factory – also have been described by professionals as being unsuitable?

Just to be clear: In the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, private education is not necessarily synonymous with high quality. In many cases, rather, we are talking about semi-pirate initiatives that are not supervised and have no obligation to uphold even minimal standards, either in terms of the level of education or even of safety.

Of course, it is possible to place the blame for the high rate of dead and injured in the recent accident on the school principal, who filled up one bus with more than 60 children, and this suspicion has to be investigated. But neither Jerusalem city hall nor Israel’s Education Ministry can deny that they have an obligation to provide Jerusalem children with a decent and suitable education that endangers neither their lives or their future.

This accident raises too many difficult questions for the Israeli policy makers who have allowed urban neighborhoods that were once an integral part of East Jerusalem to be turned into cut-off and abandoned locales whose condition is deteriorating rapidly from day to day. The attempt to fix the boundaries of Jerusalem through unilateral steps, rather than agreed-upon political negotiations, has created enclaves that are constantly in peril. In general, the almost 70,000 Palestinian residents of neighborhoods beyond the separation fence but still within Jerusalem’s jurisdiction (in the areas of Shoafat in the northeast and in the Qalandiyah area in the north ) live under inhuman conditions today.

For them, an even greater humanitarian disaster is only a matter of time.


NGO Ir Amim is dedicated to establishing an egalitarian and stable Jerusalem with a negotiated political future.

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