Hizma is a Palestinian village located northeast of Jerusalem. It is bordered by the hinterlands of Jaba'to the east, the village of Jaba’ to the north, Beit Hanina to the west, and the town of Anata to the south.1 Hizma was divided into Areas B & C under the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. About 90% of the village's lands lie in Area C meaning they are under full civil and military administrative control of the Israeli occupation.
According to the village council, the village of Hizma, which means “determination, firmness and willpower,” dates back hundreds of years. Many of the village's youth have been involved in the Palestinian struggle for liberation which has made them prime targets for the occupation forces. Many youth have been arrested and tortured at the hands of the Israeli military and, in a few tragic cases, killed. Among those martyred were the siblings Thabet and Mouayad Salah EDdin. Mouayad was killed in 2001 at the age of 24 during the second Intifada, but the Occupation authorities kept his body in the "Cemetery of Numbers" and refused to return it to his family until the 23rd of February 2014, thirteen years after his death.2
The village includes three mosques and six schools, four public and two private. Hizma has commercial & industrial areas that serve both local and outlying communities. From the village, one can also see stunning views of the Jordan valley where the hills run down to Wadi Qilt and its various fresh water springs. Generations of families from Hizma have taken their leisure in the waters of the Wadi.
After 1967, parts of Hizma's lands were confiscated in order to construct the surrounding Jewish colonies of Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze’ev, Gevaat Binyamin, and Almon. The construction of the Wall in 2004 expropriated additional land.3 The construction of the Wall has also caused Palestinians holding West Bank IDs to lose access to services in Jerusalem such as education and medicine.4
Hizma checkpoint is one of many examples of how Jerusalem has been isolated from its suburbs and villages and from the rest of the West Bank. The only access to Jerusalem is through a checkpoint and the only residents that can pass through are those holding Jerusalem IDs. Residents holding Palestinian Authority issued IDs cannot enter except with a permit. But not only was the checkpoint built on land confiscated from Hizma's residents; the traffic caused by settlers and Jerusalemites who use it daily means it can often take hours to cross.
The Annexation Wall
The western section of the village is surrounded by the Annexation Wall and the Hizma Checkpoint. Additionally, much of the northern section of the Wall snakes through the village’s land. In total, more than 4,000 dunums (making up 40% of the land), have been isolated from the village by the Wall.5
The isolation of Hizma from Jerusalem by the Wall has had a huge impact on the community. Hizma's residents with West Bank IDs are cut off from Jerusalem. They are subjected to severe movement restrictions and denied access to the city's educational and health facilities.
While the Wall has affected all of Hizma's residents, families, construction workers, and farmers have been hit the hardest. Today, farmers and construction workers, who prior to the construction of the Wall found work in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, now find it increasingly difficult to obtain permits to work there. As of 2010, the unemployment rate in Hizma reached around 30% and is expected to continue to rise.6
Because part of Hizma's original territory was illegally annexed by the occupation authorities following the 1967 Naksa, many residents have relatives with Jerusalem residency. The Wall has consequently fragmented the community and torn apart entire families.
One of the families split by the construction of the wall is Ahmad and Roqayah Khatib. Ahmad carries a West Bank ID while his wife Roqayah and their children carry Jerusalem residency. Their houses are barely a mile apart, but Ahmad cannot visit his wife and children and is barred from entering Jerusalem on vague ‘security’ grounds. Similarly, Roqayah and her children risk losing their Jerusalem residency status and thus their right to live and work in Jerusalem if they were to move to live with their husband and father.7
Planning and construction
90% of the village is classified as Area C meaning construction permits must be obtained from the occupation authorities.8 Such permits, which come from the ‘Civil Administration,’ are virtually impossible to obtain.9 This has resulted in the concentration of the community in a small parcel of land administered by the Palestinian Authority in Area B, making urban development and expansion impossible. Many of the problems the community faces stem from the consequent overcrowding, including an overloaded infrastructure and insufficient waste management facilities.