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Shuafat, as seen from the south

Shu'fat (Arabic: شعفاط‎) also Shuafat is an Arabic neighborhood of East Jerusalem, forming part of north-eastern Jerusalem.[1] Located on the old Jerusalem-Ramallah road about three miles north of the Old City, Shuafat has a population of 35,000 residents. The Shuafat refugee camp, established in 1966, is located on the traditional lands of the town of Shuafat.[2]



Known to the Canaanites and Crusaders as Dersophath;[3][4] the present-day town of Shuafat is also thought to be the site of ancient Gebim, a village in north Jerusalem whose inhabitants fled the approaching Assyrian army, according to the Book of Isaiah.[5] Shuafat has been the site of intermittent habitation since at least 2000 BCE,[3] and a number of ancient artifacts have been discovered there, including the remains of a Crusader structure in the center of the village that was possibly a church.[4]

During an archaeological salvage dig conducted near the Shuafat refugee camp in preparation for the laying of the tracks for the Jerusalem Light Rail system, the remains of an ancient Roman settlement, dating back to the Roman Empire were discovered. The settlement was described as a 'sophisticated community impeccably planned by the Roman authorities, with orderly rows of houses and two fine public bathhouses to the north.' The findings are said be the first indication of an active Jewish settlement in the area of Jerusalem after the city fell in 70 CE. The main indication that the settlement was a Jewish one is the assemblage of stone vessels found there. Such vessels, for food storage and serving, were only used by Jews because they were believed not to transmit impurity. Archaeologists believe stone basins discovered at the site were used to hold ashes from the destroyed Temple.[1][6]

The town of Shuafat was to be the most northernmost point of the corpus separatum proposed in 1947 for Jerusalem and its surrounding villages, which "in view of its association with three world religions" was to be "accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control".[7]

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Shuafat was occupied by Jordan, which subsequently, in April 1950, unilaterally declared it had annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Construction of the Shuafat refugee camp began in 1964 by the UN, to alleviate the crowded conditions in the Askar camp.[8] Construction was completed in 1966. Upon completion, the Red Cross, on orders of King Hussein, transferred the Arab refugees, originally from Ashkelon and West Jerusalem, who had settled in the hovels of the burnt out Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, to the camp.[9] According to David Bedein, the wholesale transfer was ordered because Jordan intended to undertake an Arab-style renovation of the Jewish Quarter, but the plan became obsolete when in the aftermath of the Six Day War, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Israel.[10] The town of Shuafat and the refugee camp were subsequently annexed by Israel into the municipal area of Jerusalem,[1] though recently Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has questioned whether the annexation of areas like Shuafat into the Jerusalem area was necessary.[11] Residents of Shuafat were offered Israeli citizenship, but most refused it, considering themselves to be illegally occupied, though many accepted permanent residency status instead.[1]


Jerusalem Light Rail
The First Line
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Air Force Street
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Duchifat Boulevard
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Education Campus (Pisgat Ze'ev)
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Yekutiel Adam Boulevard
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Shuafat North
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Shuafat Central
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Shuafat South
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To depot
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French Hill
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Ammunition hill
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Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah)
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Shivtei Israel (Saint George Street)
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Damascus Gate
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Safra Square
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King George V Street
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Davidka Square
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Mahane Yehuda
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Jaffa Road West
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Jerusalem Central Bus Station
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Ben Dor
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Beit HaKerem
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Denya (Denmark) Square
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Yefe Nof
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Mount Herzl

Shuafat borders Pisgat Ze'ev and Beit Hanina on the north, Shuafat refugee camp from the east, French Hill on the south, and Ramot on the west.

Three stations of the First 'Red' Line of the Jerusalem Light Rail will be situated in Shuafat: Shuafat North, Shuafat Central and Shuafat South.[12]

According to Isabel Kershner of the New York Times, Shuafat, like most of the other Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, suffers from an absence of municipal planning, overcrowding, and potholed roads.[1] While the Shuafat refugee camp is located inside Jerusalem and its residents carry Jerusalem identity cards, the camp itself is largely serviced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, even though 40 - 50% of the camp's population are not registered refugees. Some health services are provided by Israeli clinics in the camp, but in general the Israeli presence in the refugee camp is limited to checkpoints controlling entry and exit and Border Police incursions. In addition, unlike other UN-run refugee camps, residents of Shuafat refugee camp pay taxes to the Israeli authorities.[2]

In a survey conducted as part of the research for the book Negotiating Jerusalem (2000), it was reported that 59% of Israeli Jews supported redefining the borders of the city of Jerusalem so as to exclude Arab settlements such as Shuafat, in order to ensure a "Jewish majority" in Jerusalem.[13]

In July 2001, the Israeli authorities destroyed 14 homes under construction in Shuafat on the orders of then mayor Ehud Olmert, who said the structures were built without procuring permits. No one was yet living in them.[14] The families acknowledged they do not own the land they built on, but believed they had permission to build there from Islamic Trust religious authorities. Olmert told Israeli radio that it been designated "green area" and public land - and that the Palestinian presence posed a security threat to a Jewish suburb nearby. It is claimed that it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to get a permit and that these demolitions are part of a campaign to reduce the Arab population of Jerusalem.[15]

Recently however the Sorbonne scholar Prof. Sylvaine Bulle has cited the Shuafat refugee camp for its urban renewal dynamic, seeing it as an example of a creative adaptation to the fragmented space of the camps towards creating what she calls a bricolage city, with businesses relocating from east Jerusalem there and new investment in commercial projects. [16]


The neighbourhood’s Main Street, Shuafat Road, was previously part of route 60, during the 1990’s a new route was built to the east of the neighbourhood, a new dual carriageway with 3 lines in each direction, reliving the traffic congestion along the road. Currently the first line of the Jerusalem Light Rail is under construction along the centre of the road. The line will include three stations in the neighbourhood: Shuafat North, Shuafat Central and Shuafat South, which are expected to be opened at the end of 2010.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Isabel Kershner (June 5, 2007). "Under a Divided City, Evidence of a Once United One". Retrieved 2008-01-29.  
  2. ^ a b "Jerusalem Neighborhood Profile: Shuafat Refugee Camp" (DOC). Ir Amin. August 2006. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  3. ^ a b Mariam Shahin (2005). Palestine: A Guide. Interlink Books. p. 334. ISBN 156656557X.  
  4. ^ a b Denys Pringle (1997). Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: An Archaeological. Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0521460107.  
  5. ^ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans. 2000. p. 487. ISBN 0802824005.  
  6. ^ Amiram Barkat (2 January 2006). "Shuafat dig reveals first sign of Jewish life after destruction of Second Temple". Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  7. ^ Paul Jacob Ignatius Maria de Waart (1994). Dynamics of Self-Determination in Palestine: Protection of Peoples As a. BRILL. p. 216. ISBN 9004082867.  
  8. ^ Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem: The Torn City, Isratypeset, 1976, p.69
  9. ^ Beyond the Wall, Ir Amim Report, January 2007
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Olmert hints at possible concessions in Jerusalem". Ynet. October 15, 2007.,7340,L-3460183,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  
  12. ^ Stations
  13. ^ Jerome M. Segal (2000). Negotiating Jerusalem. SUNY Press. p. 127. ISBN 0791445372.,M1.  
  14. ^ Violence flares in Jerusalem as Israeli bulldozers destroy dozen 'illegal' homes
  15. ^ Tracy Wilkinson (July 10, 2001). "Israel Razes 14 Arab Homes at Refugee Camp". p. in print edition A-4. Retrieved 2008-09-07.  
  16. ^ Esther Zandberg, 'Their Shoafat outshines her Paris,' Haaretz 26/10/2008
  17. ^ "The Jerusalem Light Rail Map", Citypass,, retrieved 2009-11-08  

External links

Coordinates: 31°48′55.00″N 35°13′48.00″E / 31.81528°N 35.23°E / 31.81528; 35.23



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