Ramallah’s twin-city of Al Bireh in the West Bank is having a crisis with its dead. The Israeli authorities are preventing construction of a new cemetery. There is no where else to bury the dead now as our existing cemetery is full, says the acting head of the Al Bireh Municipality.
In an exclusive interview Monday evening, Omar Hamayel, acting head of the Al Bireh Municipality told PNN, “The racist actions of the occupation are no affecting the dead in Ramallah’s twin city of Al Bireh. They are preventing us from opening a new cemetery in the areas Israel controls under the Oslo Agreement.”
He continued, “The people of the town are being forced to look for empty spaces in the corner of the cemetery to bury their dead after the cemetery became full and there was no room for additional graves.”
Hamayel added, “This problem poses real difficulties for the people, and if it is not resolved they will be forced to bury their dead in a manner not respectful of their dignity.”
The head of the Al Bireh Municipality said, “The occupation forces closed the meat market near the northern entrance of the town since October of last year, and this is turn poses an environmental and health disaster because those working with the meat must do their work inside houses and in public places. And particularly chickens, which could carry the Bird Flu, are processed in public.”
Hamayel added saying, “After the meat market was closed by the occupation forces, Israeli soldiers took all the tools and equipment in the area and simply stole them. The occupation authorities do not now allow us to use the main road leading to the meat market. A new road must be constructed which will cost the Municipality huge sums of money, reaching 600,000 NIS.”
As for the new construction in the city next to Ramallah, Hamayel says, “The town of Al Bireh is locked in between Ramallah City and the Jewish Basghout Settlement in the area of Jabal Tawil [Tall Mountain]. And expanding toward Ramallah is not possible, which is necessary to meet residential needs. And, of course, the Israeli settlement does not allow any expansion toward it. Therefore the future expansion of the city is threatened by the Basghout Settlement, which is constantly trying to strangle the town.”
Al Bireh City’s population is near 45,000 Palestinians and the head of the its Municipality, Jamal Al Tawil is under multiple sentences of Administrative Detention in the Israeli Al Naqab Prison.