Silwan, East Jerusalem occupied – Nearly 120 Palestinian families face the destruction of their homes to make way for an Israeli religious theme park where Israelis believe King David had a garden in biblical times.
About 1,500 people living in more than 100 buildings in the al-Bustan area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem are threatened.
On Monday, inspectors of the Jerusalem municipality, accompanied by Israeli forces, sent warnings to demolish at least 13 of those houses and structures in 21 days, after an Israeli court ruled before they were built without permission. construction.
“The statement that the orders were passed is a bit inaccurate,” said social activist Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, the organization’s co-director Jahalin Solidarité.
“When inspectors transmit orders to Palestinians, they do not give them in person or even hang them at the relevant gates despite warnings that say‘ demolition within 21-days of receipt, ’” Godfrey-Goldstein told Al Jazeera.
Notices are not often received, they blow away and are sometimes found on the ground, he said.
“So many Palestinians only know that their homes are on the verge of being demolished when they wake up to the sound of doors slamming shut the day before when inspectors come to photograph their target,” Goldfrey-Goldstein explained, a former member of the Israeli Committee Against the Demolition of the Inhabitants, which fights against the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Israeli occupied territories.
The City of Jerusalem rarely approves Palestinian building permits in its ongoing effort to reach the eastern part of the city which includes facilitating the illegal construction of Jewish settlements, the forced expulsion of Palestinian residents to make way for Jewish settlers and the planned destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
Arieh King and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy leaders of Jerusalem, recently recalled that the state’s goal was to limit Palestinian construction in East Jerusalem as a deliberate policy that favored Jews to protect Israel’s character, saying that Israel was a Jewish state.
Three generations, more than 30 people, live in the homes of Fakhri Abu Diab and his brother, Nader Abu Diab. The two buildings are scheduled to be demolished in the coming weeks.
The family’s appeals against the 2019 Israeli court decision authorizing the demolition were rejected in 2020. The procedural order was issued in March this year and the final notice was sent. Monday.
“My family lived in this house for decades, long before Israel occupied East Jerusalem,” said Abu Diab, a professional accountant and spokesman for the Silwan Land Defense Committee.
“When I got married in 1988, I tried for almost three years to get a building permit to enlarge my house while my family expanded.
“I went dozens of times to the Jerusalem municipality, sometimes accompanied by a lawyer and an engineer, but I was repeatedly told that building permits would not be issued for al-Bustan because it had to be transformed into a theme park. Jew, “Abu Diab told Al Jazeera.
“No concrete action”
He said he had been involved in numerous appeals to foreign diplomats, NGOs, the United Nations and journalists for help to prevent families from being homeless.
“French and American diplomats have told me that they will put pressure on the Israeli government not to proceed with the demolition, which the French have said violates international law.
“We have a lot of verbal support, but no concrete action. Where is the UN, where is the international community? We desperately need international intervention now before the demolitions take place, not after we are already on the road and then there are tent and food dates from aid organizations, ”Abu Diab said.
The plan of the Jerusalem Municipality to build Gan Hamelech Park (King’s Garden) on the land of al-Bustan, and to link it to the nearby City of David, is only one part of the story of Judgment that applies to the entire West Bank occupied by Israel, specifically Zone C, comprising 60 percent of the territory.
“In April, Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 23 Palestinian property structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) in its May report.
“All the structures were in Area C of East Jerusalem and were targeted because of the lack of building permits, which are almost impossible for the Palestinians to obtain.”
In April, OCHA reported numerous March demolitions, which, in addition to Palestinian family homes, included buildings that were rented or were supported by NGOs. Sixteen structures that were demolished were initially funded by international humanitarian donations, while another 29 structures funded by donors, valued at nearly 86,000 euros ($ 105,000), were served for demolition orders.
“One of Israel’s main long-term goals in Jerusalem is to transform the Old City basin from what it is today – a dense Palestinian urban area, which is also the site of some of the holiest sites for the three Abrahamic religions – in a place where Jewish nationalist and religious identity is paramount above all, ”wrote Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the Israeli NGO Ir Amim, in the Jerusalem Post.
“To this end, the Israeli government – aided by the organization of the settlements – has expelled Palestinian families in neighborhoods such as Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.”
‘Nothing else to go’
While the entire Abu Diab house will be demolished, the second floor of Brother Nader’s family home is also about to be destroyed.
Like Fakhri, when Nader got married, he also built additional rooms after he did not get a building permit.
The immaculate house, built in the crowded and poor neighborhood, was evidently proudly built with each additional room tastefully decorated. But when the account of the return for the demolition of their houses closes, Nader’s wife, Itedal, fought back tears.
“I am afraid of my children and my grandchildren,” he told Al Jazeera calmly, despite his obvious despair.
When asked if she had started packing and moving her things after receiving the demolition notice, Itedal said she was too traumatized to start packing – and neither was ready to leave.
“I have lived in this house for 37 years. We have nowhere else to go. ”
Fakhri Abu Diab added that Israeli actions are aimed at further leaving the Palestinians homeless.
“They are trying to destroy our culture, our way of life and our hope for the future.”
Godfrey-Goldstein said that instead of seeking peace with the Palestinians, the Israelis were doing the opposite.
“Instead, we teach people to hate us.”