The Demolition of Palestinian Houses in Jerusalem during the month of June

The Demolition of Palestinian Houses in Jerusalem during the month of June
During the month of June 2009 Israeli occupation forces continued its policy of eviction and ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem using a number of tools including the systematic demolition of Palestinian houses. All told, 9 Palestinian houses were demolished (totally and partially) during the reporting period. The houses were located in the Old City, Jabal Al Mukabber and Al Tur. The Old City was targeted the most as 5 Palestinian houses were demolished in it during the said month. The demolition campaign left 69 Palestinians (including 33 children) homeless or crammed into their homes after it was partially demolished.
Another type of demolition that was apparent during the month of June 2009 was self-demolition in which house owners demolish their own houses in fear that if they don’t the Municipality would then demolish it and fine them hefty fines. If such fines were not paid, one can easily find himself in prison. As such, Palestinian house owners find themselves obligated to demolish their own homes. Out of the 9 demolished houses, 6 were “self demolitions.” The multi-dimensional ramifications of these “self demolitions” include the following:
  • When a Palestinian demolishes his own house, it is a statement indicating his admission of “guilt”
  • Clears the occupation forces from being accused that they have carried out the demolition
  • Saves occupation forces the expense of demolition a house
  • Hides the actual number of “self demolitions.”

Map 1: The location of towns in Jerusalem where the demolitions has taken place in June 2009
Case (1): Mr. Mohammad Ghousheh Demolished His Own House:
The 35-year old Mr. Mohammad Ahmad Ghousha demolished his one-story house located in Aqabat Al Touta in Suq Khan Al Zait in the Old City of Jerusalem. On the 8th of June, 2009, Jerusalem Municipality employees arrived at the house under the protection of special Israeli forces. They informed Mr. Ghousheh that he has to demolish his own house at his own expense. Otherwise, the Municipality would carryout the demolition and then make him pay the expenses associated with the demolition. Out of fear of hefty fines and the possibility of going to prison, the Ghousheh family demolished its own home on the same day.
On the second day, however, at about 6:00 AM an Israeli force accompanied Municipality workers as they raided the house and declared that the demolition was only partial and that the family must demolish the remaining parts. When family members objected to the raid, Israeli occupation soldiers began physically attacking them and arrested a number of the neighbors and relatives. They were later released but after paying large fines.
The family informed the Land Research Center’s field researcher that the behavior of the soldiers and the Municipality is inexcusable as the family knew only 4 days before the demolition date that an administrative order was issued to demolish the house due to the lack of permit.
Case (2): The Jerusalem Municipality Partially Demolishes Al Hartouni House:
On the 9th of June, 2009, Israeli Police accompanied Jerusalem Municipality employees as they partially demolished the house of Mrs. Khawla Waleed Al Hartouni located in Al A’alam Street in the Old City. The targeted section of the house was a room and a bathroom. It is also worth mentioning that the family had already demolished part of its house back in March 2009 in which Khalil Hartouni was living along with his wife and child.
Case (3): The Forced Removal of a Balcony in Aqabat Al Khaldiya, the Old City:
The Jerusalem Municipality forced the family of Mr. Osama Taher Hashima on the 11th of June, 2009, to demolish a balcony that it added to its house back in 2005. The house, located in Aqabat Al Khalidiya in the Old City, is inhabited by three families with a total population of 10 of which 4 are children. The Municipality issued a demolition order against the balcony in May 2009 and gave the owners until the 5th of June to demolish it themselves. Otherwise, the Municipality would execute the demolition order at the expense of the owner of the house in addition to force him to pay a building violation fine valued at NIS 70,000.
It has to be mentioned that the policies adopted by the Jerusalem Municipality are racist in nature; the Municipality insisted to demolish the balcony located in the 3rd floor of the house despite the fact that it was built to provide ventilation for the compacted home that is surround by houses overtaken by Israeli colonists in Aqabat Al Khaldiya. Moreover, the Municipality would usually submit to the demands of the colonists to demolish Palestinian construction in the Old City especially and in the City of Jerusalem in general.

Photo 1: Look at the arrow pointing at the remains of the demolished
balcony while the house is surrounded by Israeli colonists – Aqabat Al Khalidiya
Case (4): Sa’eed Family Demolishes Part of its Home:
On the 13th of June, 2009, the Jerusalem Municipality forced the family of Mr. Tariq Jamal Dawood Sa’eed to demolish part of their home. The demolished part consisted of one room and a bathroom unit that were built back in 2003 in Bab Hutta in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Members of Sa’eed family expressed the following to the field researcher of the Land Research Center (LRC): ‘ We have built the room in 2003. The very next day Municipality employees came to the house accompanied by Israeli occupation soldiers and took pictures of the new room. The employees gave us a Stop Work Order. However, the internal work continued as we were in dire need for the room as to allow our son to get married. He’s been engaged for a long period of time and we simply cannot afford the high rent prices in Jerusalem. The Municipality court fined us NIS 20,000 for building without a permit and gave us a year to try and get a building permit. However, the year passed by without any cooperation from the Municipality side to get the needed permit. The court gave us an additional month and a half to demolish the room on our own.  Otherwise, the Municipality will demolish it, fine us NIS 20,000 in addition to NIS 50,000 demolition fees. As such, we were forced to demolish the room by ourselves.’
Case (5): Al Juba’ Family Demolishes Part of its Home:
On the 15th of June, 2009, the Jerusalem Municipality obligated Mr. Mohammad Najeeb Al Juba’ to demolish a section of his house which is located in Al Jabsha Neighborhood in the Old City under the pretext that it was built without a  permit. Al Juba’ built the room due to the urgent need to expand the house in which 7 Palestinian Jerusalemites resided.            
The 56-year old Mr. Mohammad Al Juba’ indicated the following to LRC’s field researcher: ‘ The need for housing pushed me in 1997 to add a 30-m2second floor consisting of a room and a bathroom unit. During the building process, the Municipality came to the location and gave me a Stop Work Order. The Municipality Court issued its decision to demolish the additional floor and to fine us NIS 13,000. I have tried in vain to get a building permit. I have also paid the total amount of the fine. On the Municipality court session held on the 5th of April, 2009, the court gave me until the 1st July, 2009, to demolish the house. Otherwise, the Municipality will demolish it on my expenses (an estimated NIS 25,000) while fining me NIS 10,000. Since I don’t have that amount, I decided to demolish it myself.

Photos  2+3: The ruins of the house of Mr. Mohammad Al Juba’. Mr. Al Juba
demolished it by himself – Al Jabsha Neighborhood in the Old City.  

Case (6): The Brothers Khaled and Tariq Suroor Demolish Part of their Homes:
On the 20th of June, 2009, the 44-year old Mr. Khaled Suroor and his 42-year old Mr. Tariq Suroor demolished on the 20th of June, 2009 part of their two homes located in Al Madaris Neighborhood in Jerusalem. They have done so in fear that the Municipality would carryout the demolition itself and then fine them for it. The losses of the two brothers are estimated to be NIS 40,000.
Mr. Khaled Suroor expressed the following to LRC’s field researcher: ‘ The targeted sections of the houses were built in 2003. Three months ago Municipality employees came to our houses and gave us an ultimatum to demolish the added parts within a period of 3 months. Otherwise, we will be fined a hefty fine in addition to being charged for the fees of the demolition. We couldn’t afford that and so we decided to demolish it on our own. Our sons have high school tests these days. You can only imagine the psychological state they are in when they see the bulldozer destroying their homes by our own hands !!!!. ‘
Case (7): The Bashir Family Destroys Parts of Its Own House:
On the 20th of June, 2009 the family of the 37-year old Mr. Bashir Mahmoud Bashir demolished part of its house located in Jabal Al Mukabber. Again, the family was forced to do this in fear of the hefty fine that would have been imposed upon them if the Municipality would have demolished it using its crews. The demolished 35-m2 section of the house caused a financial loss of more than NIS 20,000.
Photo 4: A section of the demolished house of Mr. Bashir in Jabal Al Mukabber.
Case (8): The Jerusalem Municipality Demolishes the House of Abu Juma’a Family in Al Tur and Physically Attacks its Members:
On June 30th, 2009, around 100 armed Israeli Special Forces raided the house of Mr. Samer Ahmad Abu Juma’a which was located on the main road in Al Tur. Members of the Forces detained Mr. Samer and removed him to the opposite side of the 45-day-old house. As Israeli bulldozers started to demolish the 50-m2 house, Israeli soldiers physically attacked Samer’s mother (the 62-year old Mrs. Jamila) his stepmother (the 65-year old Mrs. Huda) and his three sisters (the 27-year old Hanadi, the 38-year old Ikhlas and the 40-year old Suhair) which necessitated medical attention.
Photo 5: Member of Abu Juma’a family in front of their demolished house – Al Tur.
The 13-year old Ahmad Abu Juma’a expressed the following to LRC’s field researcher: ‘ They came at 8:15 AM. They broke into our house while we were asleep. We were very frightened as they were heavily armed.’
As for the 10-year old Mahmoud Abu Juma’a, he said that’ They broke in while the women were asleep. They have beaten up all of my aunts and my grandmother while my mother fainted twice during the demolition.’
The 12-year old Mohannad added that : ‘I was on my way back home from school after getting my final certificate. The soldiers beat me and my aunt because we helped my grandmother stand up after she has fallen on the ground. They didn’t spare anyone of my other aunts either.


Photo 6: The children Ahmad, Mahmoud and Mohannad who testified
to LRC’s field researcher about their experience during the demolition of Abu Juma’a house

In Summary:
The following table lists the demolitions that have taken place in Jerusalem during the month of June, 2009:
Area in m2
Family Members
Mohammad Ahmad Ghousheh
Suq Khan Al Zait – Old City
Self demolition
Khawla Waleed Al Hartouni
Al A’alam Street – Old City
Osama Taher Hashima
Aqabat Al Khalidiya – Old City
Self demolition
Tariq Jamal Sa’eed
Bab Hutta – Old City
Self demolition
Mohammad Najeeb Al Juba’
Al Jabsha Neighborhood – Old City
Self demolition
Khaled and Tariq Suroor
Al Madaris Neighborhood – Jabal Al Mukabber
Self demolition
Bashir Mahmoud Bashir
Jabal Al Mukabber
Self demolition
Samer Ahmad Abu Juma’a
Al Tur
The Overall Picture:
Since the beginning of the year 2009 until the end of June of the same year Israeli occupation authorities (most notable of which is the Jerusalem Municipality) have demolished (or forced the demolition of) at least 40 Palestinian structures in Jerusalem in accordance with the following table:
No. of Structures Demolished
No. of Affected Palestinians
For additional information relating to house demolitions in East Jerusalem since the beginning of 2009, please press the following links:

[1] Source: Field work by LRC since Jan. 2009 until the end of June, 09.
* Three of the mentioned structures were tents belonging to Al Sayyala Bedouins (between the towns of Al Tur and Al Izzariyya). The tents used to shelter around 40 Palestinians more than half of them were children. 


Categories: Demolition