The Mount of Olives, known in Arabic as a-Tur, is a village located east of the Old City. The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest communities in Jerusalem and home to major historical and religious sites which has made it a popular tourist destination.
The peak of the Mount of Olives is the highest point in Jerusalem reaching 826 meters above sea level. Since time immemorial the awe-inspiring panorama, the alleged site of Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the tomb of Mary, the tomb of Rabea’ah Al-Adawiyah and other religious and historical sites have inspired travellers and pilgrims to climb its summit. The Mount of Olives is one of the oldest Palestinian villages in the city.3 It was also among the first communities in Jerusalem to establish modern civil infrastructure including schools, public transportation, phone lines, and plumbing. It is home to the only two Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem: al-Muttale’ - Augusta Victoria and al-Makased.
A-Tur holds some of the most important health facilities in Jerusalem, which include the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre for Children with Disability, al-Makased Hospital, and the Augusta Victoria Hospital.
Yet the village's historic importance and strategic location have made it a target of on-going attacks by the Israeli occupation.
Housing and denial of building permits
The occupation municipality systematically denies building permits to Palestinian residents in Mount of Olives which has put significant pressure on the community’s growing population. Residents of a-Tur have two options: build illegally or move. The former is the pretext for the occupying authority to serve demolition orders while the latter is, in effect, a bureaucratic means of ethnic cleansing. These restrictions are catastrophic for the ailing infrastructure, and they create unsanitary and overcrowded living conditions. Palestinians who are forced to move out of the city are at risk of losing their residency status.4
On the 24th of April 2013, Israeli occupation forces demolished three Palestinian homes in Mount of Olives. Their owners had spent months applying to the occupation's Planning and Construction Committee for permits but were denied.5
The municipality has repeatedly claimed that they cannot build schools in a-Tur due to lack of viable land. Yet in 1990, land was given to settlers in order to establish a yeshiva (Jewish religious school) near the Augusta Victoria Hospital.
This is just one example of how while Palestinians are denied the right to build, Israeli colonies continue to grow. Construction of 24 new units were approved in the Beit Orot colony located on the northern ridge of the Mount of Olives.6
Additionally, Israeli settler groups have occupied several Palestinian homes in Mount of Olives, transforming them into Israeli colonies. The existence of settlers in Palestinian neighbourhoods cause increased ‘security’ and military presence in those areas. As a result residents suffer from continual harassment, assault, and the unlawful arrests of children and youth by the occupation forces.7
In 2012, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee of the Interior Ministry brought up for consideration the approval of Town Plan 51870. This plan would provide for the construction of an Israeli Military Academy over a 41.5-dunum area on the slopes of Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The construction of the Military Academy would complete the ring of colonies that will surround the Old City.8
Arrests and assaults
There are reported cases of children being taken from their homes in the middle of the night and interrogated without the parental supervision - an act which defies even Israeli law.9 Violence against the community is commonplace. On May 11, 2013, seven children were injured by tear gas fired by the Israeli army.10