A tale of a house with walls the colour of the sky

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By the Jerusalem team, 

Once upon a time, there was a house. Its outsides were red, the colour of bricks, and its inside walls were blue and white like the sky.

25.10.16, Beit Hanina, bricks of the wall of the house, Photo EAPPI, Agustina G..jpg

25.10.16, Beit Hanina, blue bricks of the wall of the house, Photo EAPPI/Agustina G.

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A family blinded by injustice

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by EAs Siphiwe and Johanna, Jerusalem team, 

Nureddin Amro’s home was one of 531 Palestinian houses to be demolished by Israeli forces last year. But Nur and his family aren’t just statistics. Like every other family who experience demolitions they have their own unique story, and are still living with the consequences today; more than a year later.   Continue reading

This is the face of the occupation

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By EA Johanna, Jerusalem team.

When we arrive at Areef Tootanji’s house in Wad al-Joz, at 5 in the morning the bulldozers are still tearing through his house. Areef is beside himself shouting at the military who are blocking both the family and us from getting to the house. For a moment we are at a loss for words, what can you say to someone who’s house is being demolished in front of us? What can you say to someone who was woken up at 4AM in the morning by soldiers, who with no prior warning, and given five minutes to leave their house? Areef points at his slippers and tell us he didn’t even have time to put on his shoes. Later we find the family’s ID cards in the rubble of what was once their home.

18.05.16 Wadi Joz. Areef Tootanji in front of remains of his house. Photo EAPPI/ J. Svanelind

18.05.16 Wadi Joz. Areef Tootanji in front of remains of his house. Photo EAPPI/ J. Svanelind

According to UNOCHA, 613 Palestinian houses have been demolished so far in 2016, and 887 people have been displaced due to house demolitions. This is already more than in total 2015 when there was 531 demolitions and 688 people were displaced. In Jerusalem alone we’ve had 72 demolitions, with an average of 3 demolitions per week. [1] Continue reading

Punitive residency revocation: a new tool for forcible transfer

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by EA Anna, Jerusalem team.

The Palestinians of East Jerusalem have something called a permanent residency status, [1] granted by Israel after the illegal annexation [2] of East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 300 000 Palestinians are therefore treated as immigrants, whose entry into Jerusalem is a revocable privilege and not an inherent right. Indeed, there is nothing permanent in the permanent residency status. Continue reading

Old City, old story: a case for eviction in Jerusalem?

by the Jerusalem team,

Nora Sub Laban was born in 1956 and has lived in her home in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City all her life. Her family has lived in this house, since 1953. Now, she tells us, Israeli settlers are pushing for her eviction so that a Jewish settler family can move in. Nora, lives here with her family of nine, including grandchildren – they are the last remaining Palestinian family on the street.

Jerusalem Al-Khalidiyya St (Sub Laban family Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

2015 East Jerusalem, Al-Khalidiyya St EA visits Sub Laban family home in Muslim Quarter. Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

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Access restrictions: a case of emergency

by the Jerusalem team,

The situation on the ground in occupied East Jerusalem has deteriorated in the last month; violence has escalated and the atmosphere here is tense. October was characterized by demonstrations, violent clashes, and attacks against civilians that left 69 Palestinians and eight Israelis dead and more than 7,300 Palestinians and 115 Israelis injured. In this same period the Israeli military installed new checkpoints and road blocks on the access points to Palestinian communities living in East Jerusalem. A number of these new checkpoints have been set up in the area around the Mount of Olives. The Israeli Authorities say that it is for security reason but the question arises: for whose security and what are the consequence of these movement restrictions? Continue reading

Wait for the Bulldozers or Demolish it Yourself?

Self-demolition is an increasing trend in East Jerusalem. This phenomena receives little international attention as it is difficult to track, both in numbers of those affected and its psychological impact.

by Emmi & Zoë, Jerusalem team

The Haq family needed to wait for the authorities to verify the demolition before cleaning up the rubble. This took one month. Photo EAPPI/M. Kjellstrom.

The remains of the Haq children’s bedrooms. The family needed to wait for the authorities to verify the demolition before cleaning up the rubble. This took one month. Photo EAPPI/M. Kjellstrom.

One and a half rooms is what is left of the Haq family’s house in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. For the family of seven, this means living shoulder to shoulder.

“It is especially difficult for the older children to share,” Huda Haq, the mother, regrets.

In addition to an 18-year old son and a 16-year old daughter, she has boys aged 12 and 9 and a baby girl aged 4. Since three months ago, all of the children have been living in one room.

Last October, Ameen Abdel Haq was forced to demolish half of his house, an extension that the growing family built in 2009 . The court ordered the two rooms to be demolished because they were built without a permit. To avoid the demolition fine, a minimum of 20,000 NIS, the family was forced to deconstruct two rooms which were used as the children’s bedrooms.  

The 5 children of the Haq family all sleep in one room now. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

The 5 children of the Haq family all sleep in one room now. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

For Palestinians living in East Jerusalem it is next to impossible to acquire a building permit. The same goes for other Palestinian areas under full control of Israel, namely Area C in the West Bank. According to an Israeli peace group ICAHD, more than 94% of all Palestinian permit applications have been rejected in recent years.

“In most countries, you need a permit to build because the local municipality needs to make sure that your plans match up with theirs,” says Ruth Edmonds from ICAHD. “The problem is that in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem there is no development planning in place.”

Waiting forever for a permit is not an option with an ever-growing population, so people build without them.

Israel frequently demolishes Palestinian homes. Last year, the United Nations reported the demolition of 406 structures in the West Bank and 48 in East Jerusalem.

The number of self-demolitions is a figure that is more difficult to track. There is no comprehensive information on self-demolition in official government data, which makes international attention more difficult to foster. However, according to ICAHD the self-demolition of personal property is an increasing trend.

Two of the major reasons that families self-demolish are to avoid unnecessary attention and to dodge high demolition fines, Ruth Edmonds says.

According to ICAHD, some families also self-demolish in order to avoid the psychological burden, particularly for children, of waiting for a bulldozer to show up at their door.

Farah, 4, and Mu’nes, 9, in their now demolished bedroom. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

Farah, 4, and Mu’nes, 9, in their now demolished bedroom. Photo EAPPI/E. Kulta.

The Haq family in Ras al-Amud was given one month to demolish the newer part of their home.

“We discussed the reasons with the children why we need to do this. I think it made it easier for them to accept the situation. They have not been angry,” Huda Haq explains.

The family undertook the demolition together.

“It took three to four months to build the rooms, demolishing them only two days,” the mother sighs.

The oldest son of the family, Mohamed Haq, describes the mentality needed to carry on under the adversity caused by the occupation.

“If you want to be able to live in this country, you have to feel nothing.”

 *Learn more about the people affected by Demolitions & Evictions.