For centuries, Aizarya has been a satellite of the holy city. Now Israel wants to close off its access with a wall in a scheme denounced as de facto annexation.
By Qassam Muaddi | Middle East Eye | Jan 20, 2021
“It wouldn’t change much for me, as a minibus driver. I’d still have to drive through this crowded cage to the new way out. But it would cut the town off completely from Jerusalem,”
— Islam Rabea, minibus driver
Vehicles move slowly a few metres down the crowded main street of Aizarya, a Palestinian suburb east of Jerusalem, before stopping again.
Islam Rabea, a 23-year-old minibus driver, pulls on the handbrake and begins musing again.
“This town is more crowded than a can of tuna fish,” he says. “There’s one entrance, which is also the only exit, and I drive people to it back and forth all day.”
Aizarya’s only route to the outside world is to the east via an Israeli-built road, facing the entrance of Maale Adumim, the largest illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, built almost entirely on lands belonging to the Palestinian town.
To the west is Abu Dis, another Jerusalem suburb flanked by Israel’s separation wall, which forces all Abu Dis’s traffic to pass through Aizarya and exit east.
Last week, however, the Israeli government approved a project that would build extensive new sections of its separation wall around Aizarya’s north and east, severing it from the Israeli road and direct route to Jerusalem it has enjoyed for centuries, which now would be only accessible to Israeli settlers.