A young Palestinian shepherd leads his flock in front of Israel's separation barrier near Shufat refugee camp and the settlement of Pisgat Zeev (background), in east Jerusalem on January 15, 2016. (AFP)
Israeli occupation forces closed on Tuesday morning a checkpoint leading to Jerusalem’s Shu’fat refugee camp, blocking students’and workers’ access to their schools and workplaces.
Local sources said thousands of Palestinians could not reach their destinations as the Israeli military blocked movement out of and into the area.
Shu'fat camp is located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev, illegal under international law, is located to the camp’s north. The camp was established by UNRWA in 1965 in order to provide improved housing for the roughly 500 Palestinian refugee families living in Mu'askar camp in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Shu'fat camp was illegally annexed by Israel after the 1967 hostilities when Israel unilaterally established new municipal boundaries for Jerusalem. Camp residents still hold Jerusalem IDs and, unlike West Bank ID holders, are allowed to reside in Jerusalem. Because the Israeli Ministry of the Interior has a policy of revoking Jerusalem IDs from Palestinians who do not have their ‘centre of life’ in Jerusalem, the camp has become a popular place of residence for Palestinians (non-refugees) with Jerusalem IDs who might not otherwise be able to afford the high living costs of Jerusalem.
This has contributed to the extreme overcrowding in the camp. In 2003, Israel began the construction of the West Bank segregation barrier in East Jerusalem to isolate the camp and surrounding areas. This cut off Shu'fat residents from East Jerusalem. Today, residents have to pass through an crowded checkpoint to access Jerusalem.