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HaMoked forced to seek court intervention again: Waiting conditions in the entrance to the Administration Authority and Employment Services building in Wadi Joz are intolerable – such treatment from public authorities cannot be accepted

For years, the people who visit the East Jerusalem office of the Population Authority in Wadi Joz have been subjected to unreasonable conditions while waiting for service. Hours long queues, no shelter from the sun, the rain or the cold, no washrooms, water fountains, or benches where the elderly, or tired can rest, all in addition to a lengthy and humiliating security screening process. The building in question houses two authorities – the Population and Immigration Authority (the Ministry of Interior) and the Employment Services Office, which hundreds of East Jerusalem residents visit every day. These masses enter both these offices through a single entryway.

Despite a long campaign by HaMoked and Ma’an, and despite several judgments on this issue, the authorities continue their foot dragging, essentially refusing to provide a reasonable solution to the intolerable conditions. It took more than a decade for the population administration to announce, in response to HaMoked’s communication in November of 2016, that “preparations are underway for installing drinking fountains for the customers’ convenience”. There are still no drinking fountains.

On February 9, 2017, the organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice, together with several residents of the city and private sector lawyers – for the fourth time – to instruct the Ministry of Interior and the Employment Services Office to improve conditions and make their services properly accessible to residents of East Jerusalem. The organizations suggested various alternative solutions: installing a scanner to replace the current hand search, which would speed security checks and prevent the queues from stretching along the street leading into the office building. The organizations also suggested several basic facilities: an awning for those waiting outside, benches for the elderly and mothers with young children, as well as washrooms in the waiting area.

The petition stressed that the authorities are obligated to provide services to city residents while respecting their dignity and that a state of affairs wherein obtaining services from the authorities – an elementary and necessary condition for exercising residents’ rights – becomes an ordeal fraught with humiliation, is inconceivable.

The organizations further noted that the special status of East Jerusalem residents, who are not citizens, means they have to interact with the authorities more frequently, as every aspect of their lives needs to be formally attended to. East Jerusalem residents must visit the Population and Immigration office on a regular basis for proceedings related to family unification, child registration, renewing ID cards every few years as well as laissez-passer documents which allows them travel abroad, and more.

The Employment Services office is also frequently visited by residents of East Jerusalem due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty coupled with a relatively low rate of Palestinian families who receive income benefits. The inaccessibility of the office exacerbates the situation and prevents residents from exercising their social rights. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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