Thousands of Occupied Jerusalem homes were evacuated on Sunday as a massive blaze tore through a forest near a hospital on the outskirts of the Holy City, Israeli police said.
At least 20 fire engines rushed to the scene of the blaze which broke out in woodlands near Hadassa hospital, just above the village of Ein Kerem, believed to be the biblical home of John the Baptist.
"The fire is huge," police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP. "It is covering a huge area of several acres."
"We have evacuated the whole population of Moshav Ora and Aminadav, as well as Even Sapir," he said, referring to three collective villages in the hills of southwest occupied Jerusalem which are home to more than 2,000 people.
Police were conducting house-to-house searches to ensure no-one was left behind, he said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Two planes and a firefighting helicopter were overflying the area in a bid to douse the flames with water and fire retardant. READ MORE
AFP Published: 19:17 July 25, 2010
Israel to demolish 50 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, Armenian Church building, plans for a million illegal setters 30 April 2009
Khalil Tafakji, an expert on Israeli settlements and the director of the maps center for Arab studies, said that Israel was strenuously working on creating greater Jerusalem that would eat up 10% of the entire West Bank area.
Tafakji in a press statement on Wednesday said that Israel was trying to introduce a new demographic balance by which Israelis would constitute a big majority in Jerusalem.
He added that Israel also plans to separate northern West Bank from its southern areas and works against the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The settlements' expert explained that the Kidar and Maaleh Adumim settlement bloc east and north of occupied Jerusalem over an area of 191 square kilometers would absolutely prevent establishment of a Palestinian state geographically connected with Jerusalem as its capital.
Tafakji said that the Israeli settlement drive never stopped in any of the West Bank settlements, noting that Israel plans to construct 73,000 new housing units within five years to accommodate one million Jews in Jerusalem and West Bank. READ MORE
Jerusalem Seeks To Demolish 22 Palestinian Homes, Replace With Israeli Tourist Center in Al-Bustan 21 June 2010 Huffington Post
The Palestinian residents of Silwan in Jerusalem city especially in Al Bustan Neighborhood live a life of worry and irritation due to the decision of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem and its Neighborhood Plan number E/M/9. The plan was designed by the Municipality's Engineer at the beginning of the 1970's and called for the demolition of more than 100 Palestinian houses housing more than 140 families (1000 people). Most of these houses were established before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967 and even before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 while some of these houses were built 10 to 15 years ago. The Israeli authority has based its decision on claims and ploys from which the repulsive smell of racism is emitted. 09 July 2005