Silwan house demolition notifications
“Another War Crime in Jerusalem”

Silwan house demolition notifications <br> “Another War Crime in Jerusalem”

The Palestinian residents of Silwan in Jerusalem city especially in Al Bustan Neighborhood live a life of worry and irritation due to the decision of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem and its Neighborhood Plan number E/M/9.  The plan was designed by the Municipality's Engineer at the beginning of the 1970's and called for the demolition of more than 100 Palestinian houses housing more than 140 families (1000 people). Most of these houses were established before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967 and even before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 while some of these houses were built 10 to 15 years ago. The Israeli authority has based its decision on claims and ploys from which the repulsive smell of racism is emitted.

The Village of Silwan:

The village of Silwan is bordered by Al Aqsa Mosque Compound from the north, and land extensions of Beit Safafa and Al Sawahra Al Gharbiya from the south. As for the eastern direction, the village is bordered by Abu Dies, Al Izzariya and Al Tur town while Al Thawri Neighborhood borders the village from its western direction.

The village is a house for more than 40,000 people stemming from 12 major clans in addition to some population from nearby villages that migrated to it in the past.  See map 1: Location of Silwan

The total area of Silwan village and its affiliated lands was 73419.66 dunums in the year 1948 divided into 8 basins.  Now, this area has dropped to only 5667.317 dunums (7.7 % of its original size). See Table 1:

TABLE 1: Silwan land – facts and figures (the village of Silwan was one of the richest villages (in terms of land possession) while today it lost most of its lands for various colonial purposes)

A.     Silwan land lost before the war of 1948:

Area in Dunum

Date of confiscation




Total area of Silwan village lands



Silwan built up area in 1948.



Confiscated land by the British mandate at the top of Jabel Al Mukkaber where the headquarters of the British High Commissioner was established.





During 1948 war

Lands of Silwan in the western part of the occupied city: Maqtal Shakhtoor, Ash Shama'a and Shi'ab Yasul

Total land lost up to 1948 is 1594.343 dunums ( 2.171 % of the total).

B.     Silwan land lost after the war of 1967:

Area in Dunum

Date of confiscation



During the 1970's

The lands of Silwan in Khan Al Ahmar in Jerusalem desert according to the Turkish Taboo and Land Registration Certificate dated back to 1945 and 1963. Those lands are called (Khan As Salawneh) and owned by 12 Palestinian families. Out of the aforementioned area, 47000 dunums were arable lands while  the rest were arid lands containing archeological sites and Roman cisterns. Today, the settlement of Mishor Adumim occupies these lands.  



In Wadi Hilwa



In Wadi Qidrun



In Ash Shama'a location for public use.



In Ras Al Amud where the settlement of Ma'ale Zitim was established.

Total land lost after 1967 is 66158 dunums (90.1 % of the total).

Over all  total: 67752.343 dunums ( 92.2% of the total)

Remaining area is: 5667.317 ( 7.7 of the total) 

Source: Silwan's Land and Property Defense Committee

If the Israeli authority puts plan number E/M/9 in action, another 46 dunums of land will also be confiscated in Al Bustan neighborhood. By doing so, the total area remained for Silwan village will drop down to 5621.317 (equals to 7.6% of the total).

Al Bustan Neighborhood:

The Neighborhood is located between Ayoub, Al Rababa and Al Hilwa valleys in the east and the western versant of Middle Silwan where springs of Umm Al Daraj, Birkat Silwan (Silwan pool), Al Birka Al Tahta (Lower poor), Al Louza Spring (Almond spring) and Ayoubs well flow.

The Israeli demolition plot is planned to affect 100 Palestinian houses built atop of 46 dunums of lands of the Neighborhood which constitutes a large percentage of the lands located in Parcel 29986 according to the guidelines of the British Mandate. The lands are owned by the original clans of the village of Silwan on which houses were built more than a hundred years ago. A direct result of the natural growth of the population coupled with Israeli measures (which led to the confiscation of large areas of the village of Silwan as well as Al Bustan Neighborhood), Palestinian families were forced to build on their lands in the Neighborhood as well as to add extensions (rooms or floors) to the existing houses.           

The village of Silwan hosted a number of Palestinian families who were expelled from the Moroccan quarter of the old city after its demolition by Israel in June 1967. These families are facing, yet again, the Israeli racist machine for the second time. Currently the percentage of children in the Neighborhood hovers between 65% and 70% living in psychologically stressful and traumatic conditions due to the threat of house demolition by the Israeli authority. Moreover, it is no secret that the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem offers no services to the Neighborhood (and in the eastern Arab part of the city in general) despite the fact that residents of these neighborhoods pay full taxes to the Municipality. See Photo 1: an aerial photo for Al Bustan quarter- Silwan

Racist Goals:

According to the aforementioned Plan (plan number E/M/9), the exact term that was used to describe the targeted area was the Holy Parcel whose establishment requires the uprooting of the Gwuiem (the strangers) and to replace them by The Sons of the Forefathers with the aim of making the whole city of Jerusalem look like how the Forefathers envisioned it 3,000 years ago.

The designer of the Plan expressed this plan at the beginning of the 1970's when he refused to grant permissions to build schools, playgrounds and other services in Al Bustan Neighborhood. He indicated then that We are looking for the situation as it was in the year 90 BC.  The same plan was stated once again by the current Municipality's Engineer, Ori Shatreet, in a letter sent to the manager of the Building Inspection Department in the Municipality dated on November 11th, 2004. In this letter Shatreet ordered the demolition of all buildings in the area under the pretext of safeguarding Jewish history and heritage!! See Photo 2: Arabic translation for Ori Shatreet's letter.

It has been the policy of the Israeli occupation authority in Jerusalem since its inception in 1967 to uproot Palestinians from their homes and lands and then replace them with Israeli settlers. The Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem and its associated bodies has always been keen to cancelthe Palestinian existence in the Holy City through a series of laws and policies that used the concept of power and occupation in the different fields that affect the Palestinian livelihood directly. For example, more than 17 years has passed during which the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem failed to give an approval to even one Master Plan presented by the Palestinians in Jerusalem. Some of the areas of East Jerusalem have never been given the initial approval of their Master Plans while at the same time there were areas in which Master Plans were not even drafted to begin with. As for those Master Plans that were approved, they didnt put the actual needs of the Palestinian population as its first priority. Its main goal was, and will always be, to Judaize the Holy City of Jerusalem at all costs, a process which is being displayed today in Silwan in a number of ways:

  • The confiscation of lands.

  • The prevention of building any new housing scheme.

  • The demolition of a number of Palestinian houses.

The Land Research Center has documented the demolition and the closure of more than 60 Palestinian houses in Silwan as well the occupation of 50 other Palestinian houses by Israeli settlers. Moreover, the Jerusalem Municipality has deliberately neglected the maintenance of the basic infrastructure of the village  and did not provide the essential services to Palestinian residents of Silwan village and Al Bustan Neighborhood. See Photo 3: an aerial photo for Al Bustan neighborhood attached with Ori Shatreet's above letter. Upon looking at the photo, one can see the targeted houses carrying serial numbers)

The current situation is only a manifestation of the plan which was placed at the early 1970's. The plan was kept a secret for more than 27 years only to be exposed to the public through two articles:

  • An Article written by Aharon Robert in Haaretz

  • A second article in Maamkoun Orshalaym newspaper in April 2005.

Its been speculated that the Israeli government has leaked this information now as the execution of the plan is near. A quote appeared in these two articles by Shatreet in which he stated that the intended demolitions will affect the areas surrounding the Old City (including Silwan and the valleys of the Mount of Olives, Al Tur, Wadi Al Joz and Al Sheikh Jarrah) as to create an Israeli belt called The Golden Parcel around it. Such a plan was strongly rejected by the late President Arafat during the Second Camp David negotiations in 2000.    

Effects and Goals of the Racist Neighborhood Plan Number E/M/9:      

At the time when the building beneath Al Haram Al Sharif compound is being conducted and while the construction work is continuing in the settlement of Maale Zitim in Ras Al Amoud, taking over Palestinian holdings in the area of Wadi Hilwa in Silwan, this new plan aims to create a geographical continuity between the above-mentioned locations and some parts of Western Jerusalem via the Moroccan Quarter inside the old city of Jerusalem and the nearby Zion Mountain. Moreover, this particular plan aims at:

  • Creating a suitable environment to attack andor destroy the Al Haram Al Sharif as a prelude to the establishment of the Third Temple.

  • Reducing, to the minimum, the Palestinian presence in the above-mentioned locations which are considered parts of the citys western gate.

  • This plan is considered to be the largest in Palestinian population transfer in Jerusalem city since the occupation of the city in 1967.

  • Tricking the Palestinian population of Al Bustan as the Israeli authority gave out demolition orders for 3040 Palestinian houses while promising its inhabitants to find alternative governmental lands as a substitute for their lands. Despite this fact, the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem has clearly stated that it will demolish the houses even if an alternative housing was not found.

  • The intention of demolishing old houses though Israeli law protects it. The Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem is using Article 212/5 of the 1965 Building Code to facilitate the demolition of houses. This article was used in the demolition of ten ancient houses in Al Bustan Neighborhood ten months ago.

(Photo 4: a digital photo showing the targeted houses of Silwan Photo courtesy of LRC

(photo 5: a copy of a house demolition order dated 14.2.05 against the houses of Wa'el and Jumana Jalajel in Silwan )

Israel Borrows a French Law to Prosecute Humans and Buildings:

The Israeli Municipality of occupied Jerusalem took the residents of Al Bustan Neighborhood by surprise when it sent them official letters indicating its intention to get court orders to demolish their houses under the pretext that they exist in an open area according to Article 212/5 of the Israeli Building Code.

After conducting some research about this Article, the following facts were found in its regard:

  • The Article was taken from a French law which was used rarely in the strictest and narrowest terms before being entirely revoked by the French Legislature according to a French professor who visited the solidarity tent in Silwan Neighborhood. The Israeli Knesset and government adopted this Article in 1965 and used it on numerous occasions to transfer Palestinians via demolishing their homes.

  • The danger of this Article is that it contains more than 18 clauses that provide a free hand for the Israeli government to take any action it sees fit to serve its goals and purposes.

  • Israel reactivated this Article immediately after the 1967 Six Day War as it used it to demolish Palestinian houses in Sharaf Neighborhood (a.k.a Al Magharbeh or Moroccan Neighborhood). The houses were replaced by a large open space in front of the Western Wall (Wailing Wall Plaza). Israel used the same Article once again to demolish Abdeens leather factory as well as a block factory inside the Old City of Jerusalem as to replace them with a parking lot to be used by Jews living in the Jewish Neighborhood. 

  • It turned out that 15 Palestinian houses were demolished in Al Bustan Neighborhood using this Article yet without a declaration of its usage neither by the Municipality nor by the court at that time. See Photo 6: a copy of an order issued by the  secretariat of the court of the municipality of occupied Jerusalem directed to an unknown person asking him/ her to destroy his/ her house with his/her own hands before 28.3.05 under the threat that he/ she will be liable to pay the demolition's costs to the planning and construction committee which was authorized to destroy the house in case he/ she fails to do so).: a copy of an order issued by the  secretariat of the court of the municipality of occupied Jerusalem directed to an unknown person asking him/ her to destroy his/ her house with his/her own hands before 28.3.05 under the threat that he/ she will be liable to pay the demolition's costs to the planning and construction committee which was authorized to destroy the house in case he/ she fails to do so).


Israeli Phony Claims:  

The claim of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem that it targets only illegal houses is a baseless claim, given the fact that there are other areas in Jerusalem that has a larger density of illegal houses than that of Al Bustan Neighborhood. Amiraf, an ex-member of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem, stated regarding the issue that the Jordanian government has approved in the past the Master Plan for Al Bustan Neighborhood, yet Israel torpedoed its implementation. International pressure compelled Teddy Kollek, former head of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem to declare that the Municipality would finish the Master Plan in a two-year period, which he didnt.

As indicated by a number of Palestinian residents present at the solidarity tent, the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem issued in 2002 a Master Plan specifically for Silwan village (including Al Bustan Neighborhood) that carried the number 20/20 and put it out for public objections. Soon after, the Municipality withdrew the Plan under the claim that the Plan was published by mistake.

Silwan Residents Refuse the Israeli Decision of House Demolition:

The Palestinian residents of the targeted houses and neighborhoods have refused the planned demolition of their homes and the destruction of their civilization. As such, a committee was formed under the name of Silwan Land and Property Defense Committee from which a number of specialized subcommittees emerged to stop the planned aggression and to follow up with the case on the legal, popular and media levels. The Committee meets on regular basis in the tent where national and international delegations as well as Human Rights and Israeli organizations congregate to express their refusal and rejection of the planned demolition.

Mr. Musa Oudeh (47 years old) indicated in an interview with LRCs field worker that: 'I was born here and got married here too. My kids were born and raised here. I lived, and will continue to live here. The conspiracy against Al Bustan is only a part of the bigger scheme to Judiaze the Holy City of Jerusalem.'   

As for Mr. Suleiman Al Abbasi, the head of Committee, he indicated that Palestinian surveyors mapped the targeted region and a team of lawyers is concentrating on the legal issues as to prevent the demolitions. He also added that the area is being targeted under fabricated religious claims as Silwan is a Canaanite archeological site in which continuous Israeli digging did not muster any evidence of it being a Jewish site. Mr. Al Abbasi added that: ' These lands belong to the residents of Al Bustan. It used to be a huge garden in which we planted a variety of vegetables watered from the Silwan Spring. It used to be divided between all the clans of Silwan. Each had a share of no more than 10-15 m2 of the land. We used to call each share as 'Mashrabiya' as each family used to plant it with vegetables. After the 1967 Israeli occupation, matters started to go bad economically which led the original families of Al Bustan to sell their share to nearby families which divested the ownership to more than 150 families. Some of these families continued to farm the land while others built their own houses on their bought share'.

In another interview, Mr. Hisham Mahmoud Aqeel (45 years old), an owner of a threatened house said: 'The land belonged to my family since the time of my forefathers. The family pays its taxes even before the year 1948. My brother and I were shocked when we heard the decision of the Municipality to demolish our houses and takeover our lands. That is despite the fact that our homes were built during the Jordanian rein of power in 1958 and 1961. I was born here and so did my brothers. It is impossible for us to leave our homes. The decision of the Municipality is earth shattering for us'.

Mr. Salah Abu Shafe (40 years old), a father of 8, expressed the following: 'I built a house on my land and the Municipality demolished it 11 years ago under the pretext of building without a permit. We had no other choice but to build it again on the same land 6 years ago. The first and second building processes in addition to the fines imposed upon us have reached about NIS 1.0 million'.

The Municipalitys Plan is Illegitimate and is Based on the Rule of Power and Racism:

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is a vicious attack on the Palestinian people. It is considered as marked violation of International Law in addition to tens of UN Security Council resolutions. The decision of the Municipality of Occupied Jerusalem to target Palestinian houses for demolition in Al Bustan area is one very ring in the chain of attempts to destroy the Palestinian character of the Holy City.

International Law and International Conventions are very clear in this regard. To follow is a partial list of some of the related Laws:

  • The Occupation Power is forbidden from carrying out any action that shall destroy the personal belongings and property of those it occupies.

  • The Occupation Power shall not work on transferring its population to the land it occupies.

In the legal context of the matter, Lawyer Hameed Qaraeen, a member of the legal subcommittee formed by the afore-mentioned Committee, said that: 'We, in the Committee in Silwan and Jerusalem, demand of the Palestinian Authority to hold on strongly to the decisions of International Legitimacy and International Law to defend our right to stay on our lands, gardens, Silwan and Jerusalem in general. We call upon the International Community to respect and uphold its decisions and conventions and to pressure Israel to make it respect them, too as well as to make it stop its aggression and violations against our right to live in our homes on our lands safely and in complete dignity.'

 Photo 7: a copy of a house sale contract between Mr. Raja Mohammed Jalajel and his son Hashim which was written at the beginning of the last century in Silwan- Jerusalem.



 Prepared by
The Land Research Center


Categories: Military Orders