Occupation forces today began blocking all the side roads along the western edge of the main road between Ramallah and Jerusalem in preparation for starting construction of the Apartheid Wall. By closing the side roads it seems the Occupation forces are planning to limit the movement of cars and people on the road until the Wall is completed, at which point no movement along the road will be possible.
Sections of the Wall around Ar Ram have been under construction since last February, at which time Occupation forces began building the Wall between Dahiat Al Barid, the settlement of Neve Ya’acov and an Occupation military camp located nearby. Construction of the Wall has also been taking place in the area of Dahiat Al Aqbat and Wadi Ayad to the east, between Ar Ram, Jabaâ and Hizma villages. Ar Ram will soon loose 6500 dunums of its lands, which will be isolated behind the Wall, and stolen for planned settlement expansions.
The Wall through Ar Ram will pass along the middle of the main road, separating the two sides of the street, and cutting Palestinians off from each other – those on the Jerusalem side from the West Bank, and those on the West Bank side from Jerusalem. The Wall will also destroy a road which has historically been the main artery linking Jerusalem to northern Palestine, as well as to the rest of the Arab countries bordering Palestine to the north.
The Wall in Ar Ram will place sixty thousand people in a hanging ghetto, linked to Ramallah by either a bridge or a tunnel. With all of its lands confiscated or isolated, there will be no viable space left for any form of natural population growth in the area.
This will be a political, social and economic catastrophe for the people living in Ar Ram, as well as to all Palestinians. The Wall around Ar Ram represents the complete isolation of Jerusalem from the West Bank, and will destroy all economic investments in the area, as well as severely impacting the educational system in the area.
Being located between Ramallah and Jerusalem, during the Oslo period Ar Ram witnessed strong economic growth. The city became a crucial commercial center where merchants from all over Palestine could meet to conduct business. With the current Intifada, Ar Ram became even more important as a distribution point for merchandise to the rest of West Bank. Sealing Ar Ram off with the Wall will destroy the rich commercial life of the area, and will isolate and marginalize Ar Ram to the point where economic losses could possibly mount to millions of dollars.
The Ar Ram ghetto will separate merchants from their clients, from their markets and areas where they get their goods. 40% of the economic hardship will be felt in the main street area where tens of commercial stores will be directly affected as the Wall is built on their doorsteps. One can predict that these stores will close shortly after construction of the Wall begins, possibly closing faster than the stores in Eizarya did when faced with the Wall.
Ar Ram is also now threatened with mass evacuations, with many of its buildings, apartments, and stores rented by people living outside the city, who came and set-up shops in Ar Ram to take advantage of itâs location between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Also, more than forty international and local organizations have offices in Ar Ram and Dahiat Al Barid. If these organizations decide to move from the area then Ar Ram stands to loose a large source of regular income from the rents these organizations pay monthly. Local employees of these organizations will also suffer, potentially losing their jobs if they are unable to travel to the relocated offices. Markets in Ar Ram will also suffer, losing a large percentage of their daily business.
The same applies to commercial properties, old or new, that will be hard pressed to find anyone able to rent them after the Wall destroys the commercial life in Ar Ram. Commercial properties in the area used to be sold for 4000 JD per square meter, and it is unlikely anyone will be able to afford such rents after the Wall, and prices are expected to drop dramatically. This is in addition to merchants, and workshop owners who may decide to leave their shops and move where their clients and merchandise can better reach them. Construction may stop in buildings which are not yet completed, and newly completed buildings may not be able to find tenants.
Education in Ar Ram will be affected as well. There are currently 12 schools in Ar Ram, both public and private, and many of the students travel daily from Jerusalem to study. Alternately, 7,500 students living in Ar Ram study in Jerusalem and will be forced to move with their families to Jerusalem if they wish to stay enrolled in their current schools.
This could be the most devastating effect of the Wall on Ar Ram, if tens of thousands of Jerusalemites living in the area decide to leave their houses and look for new residences in Palestinian neighborhoods that will stay within Jerusalem. During the nineties, the municipality of the Occupation in Jerusalem started a campaign against Jerusalemites living outside what it considered it’s municipal boundaries. At that time 12,000 people from Ar Ram were forced to leave and find other housing in areas considered part of Jerusalem by the Occupation forces. Today thousands more Palestinians will find themselves in the same situation, yet, moving may now prove extremely difficult with the racist policies of the Occupation municipality in Jerusalem. In Palestinian neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem, the Occupation municipality has confiscated large areas of land for new settlements, or further settlement expansion. If no settlements are currently planned, then open spaces are declared green areas, where Palestinians cannot have building permits. All of this is in addition to routine house demolitions, the lack of Palestinian building permits and the high taxes people have to pay annually to the Occupation municipality.
The Wall in Ar Ram will destroy the city, and place it’s people in a ghetto, impoverishing them and depriving them of all the conditions necessary for human life.