The Demolition of Palestinian Houses in Jerusalem during the month of July 2009

The Demolition of Palestinian Houses in Jerusalem during the month of July 2009
Map 1: The location of towns in Jerusalem where the demolitions has taken place in July 2009. 
During the month of July 2009, the Jerusalem Occupation Municipality continued implementing its ethnic cleansing policies and practices in different forms and shapes most ugly of which was the demolition of Palestinian homes. It’s been documented that 9 Palestinian homes (with a total area of 407 m2) spread around a number of locations throughout Jerusalem (including Beit Hanina, Silwan, Sur Baher in addition to the Old City) were demolished either partially or totally during July 2009. Beit Hanina was targeted the most during the said month as 3 houses were demolished there. In total, 60 Palestinian Jerusalemites (of which 40 were children) became homeless or crowded in their homes after occupation forces demolished (or forced the demolition of) their houses either totally or partially.    
Forced Self Demolitions:
The forced self demolition is an old-new phenomenon implemented in the past under the slogan “Demolish Your Home by Yourself.” During the not-so-distant past Palestinian Jerusalemites would find themselves obliged to demolish their own homes by themselves. Yet, they would feel ashamed of talking about it and admitting that they have destroyed their own place of residence. The numbers of such cases were high in the past, however it seems that the ever-increasing number of these cases has pushed the victims of this policy to talk about in the media as it is considered to be a cruel punishment that defies sanity. The “logic” used by the occupation forces in implementing this policy is as follows; the housestructure was built without a permit which means that it is “illegal.” The owner is, thus, obliged to demolish it and remove the debris. Then, the owner is obligated to take pictures of the housestructure and deliver it to the Building and Organization Department at the Municipality as to verify whether or not an appropriate demolition has taken place. In case the Department was not “satisfied” with the demolition, it sets a time line during which the owner should carry the demolition in a complete fashion. The Municipality Court would then set a date for a court hearing to look into the matter of non-compliance with the demolition order. A hefty fine is usually decided upon by the court. The role of the Municipality would, then, be to demolish the house on the expense of the owner. If the owner opts not to pay the cost associated with the demolition, he will be jailed until the costs are paid. As such, the owner would find himself obligated to destroy his own house as to avoid all other administrative steps against him that can be taken by the Municipality and its associated court.      
Among the 9 demolished houses 4 were demolished on the hands of its owners as to avoid any reprisal steps taken against them by the Jerusalem Municipality.
Case (1): Abu Tir Family Demolishes its Own House:
On the 12th of July, 2009, Mr. Abdel Rahman Mahmoud Abu Tir demolished part of his house (area = 30 m2) located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Earlier in March 2009 the Israeli Border Police accompanied a Jerusalem Municipality employee as he took pictures of the house of the family. He also gave a citation to Mr. Abdel Rahman under the pretext of building without a permit and threatened that the Municipality will come back within a week to demolish the building at the expense of the family if it didn’t carryout the demolition itself. As such, the family carried out the demolition on the 12th of March, 2009 as to avoid any other punitive steps by the Municipality.
Case (2): The Qatina Family Partially Demolishes its House:
On the 24th of June, 2009, the Jerusalem Municipality forced the family of Mr. Mujeer Al Din Mohammad Qatina (39 years old) to demolish a part of its house located in Al Wad Neighborhood in the Old City of Jerusalem. The demolished building consisted of a room, a kitchen and a bathroom of a combined area of 20 m2. The structure was built 12 years ago due to the excessive need to expand the house in which 6 people live.

Photo 1: The ceiling of the house of Mr. Mujeer Al Din in Al Wad Neighborhood in the Old City.
Case (3): Al Toutanji Family Demolishes its Own House:
On the 7th of July, 2009, Mr. Fayez Ibrahim Al Toutanji demolished a 42-m2 house consisting of a room, a salon and a kitchen. The house is located in Nuseibah Neighborhood – the “Second Project” in Beit Hanina. The Municipality had already threatened to demolish the house at the expense of Mr. Fayez if he did not carryout the demolition himself.
The Municipality indicated that the house was built in 1999, a “fact” disputed by Mr. Fayez who said that the house was built in 1996. He even brought an aerial photo that proved that the house was standing since 1996 which means that by the line of the law that 5 years have passed on the building without any violation andor citation issued against it. As such, the Municipality has no right to demolish the house.
Mr. Al Toutanji expressed the following to Land Research Center (LRC)’s vis-à-vis the demolitions: ‘ I just couldn’t understand how the Judge has challenged the facts and decided to demolish the house especially that the aerial photo has put a stop to any speculation. The Court fined me NIS 18,000 that I have paid over a period of one and a half year. On the 1st of June, 2009 the Court decided to demolish the house within a period of two months. It threatened that if I do not do that myself, the Court will convene once again on the 10th of July, 2009, as to set a fine against me. It would then demolish the building on my expense. I was also afraid that Municipality demolition would cause structural damage to the other parts of the house. As such, I found myself obliged to demolish my house on my own as I don’t have the financial means to pay neither for the fine nor for the demolition cost !!!!!!. ‘

Photo 2:The debris of the house of Al Toutanji family in Beit Hanina.  
Case (4): The Jerusalem Municipality Demolishes Al Shweiki House in Beit Hanina:
At 8:00 AM on July 13th, 2009 the Jerusalem Municipality demolished a 2-story house (area= 145 m2) belonging to Mr. Ala’a Abdel Al Razzaq Al Shweiki in Al Ashqaria Neighborhood in Beit Hanina. The demolition took place under the pretext of being built without a permit.
Photo 3: A tent placed atop the debris of the house of Mr. Al Shweiki.
The colony of Raikhis Shu’fat appears in the background.
Mr. Ala’a expressed the following to LRC’s field researcher: ‘ I built the house in the year 2002. In 2003 I received a notification to attend a court session for building without a permit. The Court fined me NIS 70,000 and ordered my house to be demolished within 18 months if no permit was issued by the Municipality. On the 13th of July, 2009 the Municipality Court held a session in which it ordered the house to be demolished. The sentence was carried out on the same day !!!!. My loss surpasses $100,000 in addition to my furniture, not to mention that myself and my family have become homeless. We received only a tent from ICRC and some items from UNRWA. When I requested to remove the furniture, the military commander said “get out what you can. We will demolish the house atop the remaining furniture.”
Case (5): Municipality Bulldozers Demolish Al Masalma House in Silwan:
On the 13th of July, 2009 Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers demolished at 8:00 AM parts of the house of Mr. Jamal Masalma in Wadi Al Rababa in Silwan. The family of Mr. Masalma has 17 Palestinians of which 12 are children.

Photo 4: Israeli bulldozers demolishing the house of Al Masalma in Silwan
Case (6): Nimr Family Demolishes its Own Home:
On the 18th of July, 2009, Mr. Saleh Khalil Nimr (age: 36 years old) demolished his under-construction two-story home located in Al Makaf Neighborhood in Sur Baher.
Case (7): The Jerusalem Municipality Forces the Demolition of Siyam Family’s House:
On the 30th of July, 2009, the family of the 32-year old Mr. Mohammad Suleiman Siyam was forced to demolish its one-story house after it received continues threats that if it didn’t the Municipality would impose harsh and hefty fines on them.
Mr. Siyam expressed the following to LRC’s field researcher: ‘ We finished building the house at the end of 2008. On the 20th of June 2009 Municipality employees came along with the Police and took the measurements of the house while taping to the door an executive order to demolish the house. The order indicated that I must demolish my home within a period of 24 hours otherwise I would be fined around NIS 70,000. On the 30th of July, 2009, I saw Police and Border Police cars driving towards us. So I took the initiative and demolished the house to avoid the hefty fine. ‘
The following table provides a summary of the demolished houses in Jerusalem since the beginning of the year 2009
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: LRC’s field work since the beginning of the year 2009 until July of the same year. 
* 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