|The following alert has been jointly issued by Ir Amim and Bimkom.
Approximately 100 Palestinians are at risk of impending displacement after receiving an evacuation notice in lead up to the demolition of a four-story residential building in Wadi Qaddum (see exact location on map below). According to the notice, the families must evacuate the building by this Thursday, June 2, 2022. Today, their legal representation submitted an urgent request for a meeting with the Jerusalem Municipality in an attempt to negotiate, yet no formal response has been received.
The residential building is comprised of 12 housing units and home to nearly 100 individuals, including women, children, and elderly individuals suffering from medical conditions and disabilities, who stand to be made homeless with no alternative housing.
Constructed in 2014, the residential building is slated for demolition under the pretext of lacking a building permit. Despite tireless attempts by the families to promote a re-zoning spot plan, which would enable the eventual receipt of a building permit, the Israeli authorities have refused to compromise and undertake a just and equitable solution.
In 1998, the Israeli planning authorities approved TPS #2668 for the plot where the building is located. According to the plan, the respective plot is designated as open/green space intended for sports and leisure use. In more recent years, the Jerusalem Municipality prepared and adopted a new Master Plan (i.e. non-statutory planning policy) for the area. This policy document proposes to maintain the previously approved designation of this plot in stark contradiction to the reality on the ground and the fact that this building had already existed before the master plan’s adoption.
The designation of areas as green/open space is a common practice of Israeli authorities to suppress Palestinian urban planning and residential development in East Jerusalem, often aiding the seizure of their lands to serve Israeli interests. While there is a severe shortage of open space for public use in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, creating such a space by destroying Palestinian homes and forcibly displacing families is not the answer. The planning authorities must halt demolitions and advance solutions, which recognizes the dire needs of Palestinian residents and upholds their absolute right to equitable planning and housing alongside their Israeli counterparts in the city.
From the start of 2022 until today, 75 demolitions, 39 of which were residential units, have been carried out across East Jerusalem on the basis of lacking a building permit. These permits are impossible to procure without the approval of proper zoning plans, which the Israeli authorities systematically neglect to advance and/or approve. On the contrary, the authorities focus solely on “boosting” socio-economic development in Palestinian areas, rather than rectifying the longstanding urban planning stranglehold and the most critical issue facing East Jerusalem Palestinians today, namely the housing crisis.
This planned demolition is an opportunity to urge the Israeli government to prevent further destruction of Palestinian homes and lives and to change its discriminatory policies and practices with regard to residential planning, development and demolitions in East Jerusalem.
The residents of the building are calling upon the international community to protect their basic right to housing and shelter and to prevent their imminent displacement: watch their video here.