Forgive me if I sound angry. It is stunning what one can learn just listening to health care providers and administrators chatting over a cup of thick Arabic coffee in an office in East Jerusalem. There are so many injustices, some imposed by occupation, racism, fear, and some by internal dysfunction. There is a growing drug problem in East Jerusalem (think poverty, hopelessness, no police protection or functional court system, dealers running out of an Israeli crime network), currently mostly young men on heroin and three small NGOs working on drug rehabilitation. Abu Dis, (a neighborhood of East Jerusalem divided by the separation wall), just developed its first forensic center and one is now just developing in Ramallah, so solving crimes is still a bit of a mystery.
Jerusalemites pay the same taxes as West Jerusalemites and get minimal to no municipal services. There is not enough garbage collection, rare playgrounds, and until two months ago, Palestinians did not even have addresses! There are now apartment numbers and street names, but they are not the names that people have used for years and everyone has a post office box anyway. In Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, the water supply is connected to Ramallah but the sewer is connected to the Israeli system. Recently residents were hit with a bill for seven years of sewer service charges. The municipality charges an occupancy tax (Arnona) which is based on the size of the houses. Arab houses tend to be bigger, house large extended families; Jewish Israeli houses tend to be smaller, more urban. As a consequence Arab families have been penalized with greater taxes since 1967. As one public health worker noted, “This causes hypertension.” I wonder if this qualifies as torture by sheer constant aggravation.
Geneva Convention IV, Article 56