Last week I got a midnight call from a Palestinian friend of mine: Hagit, I’m sorry to call you so late, but you always say to bug you whenever something happens… There is a truck with a trailer near my home. I don’t know where it is heading.
I was exhausted, last thing I wanted to do was to crawl out of the pajama and start chasing a truck with a trailer in the middle of the night in order to find out where in East Jerusalem do the settlers plan to put up their next provocation. Luckily, my friend continued: I am in my car together with a friend, waiting for their move. So he followed the truck through the streets of East Jerusalem, then called and said: Ras El-Amud. At the old police station.
I have been following the developments at the old police station in Ras El-Amud for a few years. On May 2008 the Israeli police left the building and moved to a new structure that was built at the disputed “E1” area near the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. It was part of a deal between the settlers and the police, according to which, the settlers would pay for the construction of the new police headquarter, and in return will get the old one, which was built by the Jordanians on lands that belonged to Jews before 1948.
The settlers plans to knock down the old police station building and to build some 104 new housing units. The approval of such plan should take several years, so they decided, meanwhile, to use the old building for residence. The renovation of an existing building does not require a special permit, as long as all the works are made inside of the structure. However, any works on external wall require a construction permit from the Municipality. A request to make structural changes in the police building was filed with the Municipality on 17 December 2009, but as far as we know, such permit has not yet been issued.
I went to see the place, and saw some trailers at the parking lot of the police station used as storages and offices for the renovation works. A few dozens of workers were working in and outside of the building. The construction of another settler compound in a Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood have started.
Some of the works performed there probably require such permits as they are performed on external walls. The settlers have also knocked down a structure adjacent to the police station building, which also requires a permit. With or without an official permit, this construction is surely not adding to the very delicate and fragile efforts to renew the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The works at the police station, 3/5/10
The police station after knocking down the structure, 3/5/10