Palestinian Sana Musa holds her 8-year old daughter Susann’s hand as they start the long trek home from school across a caged walkway through Israel’s concrete separation wall.
Just a short drive from the stone streets of the world-famous Old City, this is part of Jerusalem’s fractured landscape that no tour group would dare tread, where high-rise tower blocks are packed slapdash along rutted roads.
Marooned behind the wall but within city limits, the Shuafat refugee camp reveals Israel’s uneven treatment of Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods, creating a de facto partition of Jerusalem, which is the epicentre of the Middle East conflict.
“There aren’t even any school buses. It can take us as long as an hour to get home,” Musa said, her daughter’s pink sweatshirt disappearing past the metal turnstiles into the camp, which is fast developing into a lawless slum.
A two-minute drive away lies the massive Pisgat Ze’ev Jewish settlement, whose neat streets and sculpture garden are a parallel universe to the chaos of Shuafat.
“In the settlement they lack for nothing, life is easy. Here, we suffer,” said Musa. Susann goes to school beyond the wall in mainly Arab East Jerusalem and walks home through the checkpoint and the camp, where tens of thousands of people live. Shuafat backs onto the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, and, in a move not internationally recognised, annexed it. Palestinians want it to be the capital of their future state.
The Israeli government renewed U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians in July and the status of Jerusalem is likely to be a major stumbling block in the negotiations.
Rights groups estimate almost 100,000 Palestinians with ID papers from Jerusalem live beyond the separation wall - a barrier that started to go up almost a decade ago amid a wave of suicide attacks during a prolonged Palestinian uprising.