East Jerusalem community inaugurates first ever playground

Construction, using Belgian funds, follows recent lawsuit highlighting disparity in number of play areas for Jews versus Arabs

Illustrative photo of a playground (Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg)
Illustrative photo of a playground (Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg)

The East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher opened its first and only playground this week, giving the long-neglected Arab residents two slides, a merry-go-round and two swings.

The playground was built in a month using a donation from Belgium of NIS 200,000 ($51,700), provided via the UN Habitat agency, Haaretz reported. It will serve the neighborhood’s 40,000 residents.

Dafna Saporta, a member of Israeli non-profit Bimkom, that helped build the playground, said the local community was integral to its construction, coming together to clear the area, pave it and build the infrastructure.

Ze’ev Goldberg, head of the municipality’s city improvement branch, had also agreed to help out with the construction, despite the project not yet receiving authorization or construction permits, the report said.

Haaretz noted that the Jerusalem District Court recently instructed the municipality to plan and construct playgrounds in the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina as soon as possible. Residents there had filed a petition showing that Jewish neighborhoods had 30 times as many playgrounds as the adjacent Arab neighborhoods. The municipality claimed in response that it was difficult to find vacant lots in Arab neighborhoods for such projects.

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