Land Research Center - LRC

Another Israeli crime against humanity; Self –Demolition in Silwan / Occupied Jerusalem

2019-01-22

On January 22, 2019, citizen Adam Masalmeh was forced to self-demolish his house in Silwan following a decision made by the occupation municipality and in order to avoid paying fines.

The affected citizen was forced to self-demolish it after threatening to impose high fines and demolition fees of 50-60 thousand NIS on him.

Reportedly, the Israeli municipality gave him 30 days to execute the demolition of his house claiming that it was built without a permit.

Masalmeh added that the house was built recently from bricks and sandwich panels, Adam lived in the house with his wife and child.

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Self-Demolition is a Crime against Humanity:

Definition: When an owner of a structure is forced to demolish his property by himself, it is called 'self demolition' or 'silent demolition'. It used to be carried out in quiet or in silence as the name suggests. But recently, due to their increased number of cases, victims have come to disclose that such type of demolition exists and that it is their only choice and speak out about the inhumanity of the Israeli occupation for forcing such a practice.

This kind of demolition is mainly imposed on Palestinians in Jerusalem in efforts to displace them and Judaize the city.

The Israeli occupation always justifies that type of demolition, which is a blatant contravention of the right to residence and a crime against humanity, on the pretext of unlicensed construction.

[If your house has been built without a building permit, then it is legal and you have to destroy it and remove the wreckage as soon as possible. You also have to take pictures of the destroyed structure and send them to the Inspection Department of the Planning and Construction Committee in the occupying municipality to verify the act. There is a fixed date regarding when you have to carry out the demolition operation and this is a red line you cannot cross. There is a second date set by the municipality court of local affairs to check if you have abided by the demolition order or not. In case you do not comply, the municipality will demolish your residence at your expense. If you cannot pay, you will be jailed, so the lesser of two evils becomes the self-demolition choice.]

LRC field observers kept a close eye on the matter and recorded 137 cases where the owners had to demolish their property by themselves during the past eight years making 1303 civilian citizens, more than half of whom are children, homeless and lacking security and stability.

The following table provides numbers of houses demolished by their owners in occupied Jerusalem (2010-2018):

years

Number of houses

Area m2

Family members

children

2018

20

1976

125

65

2017

17

1325

90

55

2016

28

1999

125

56

2015

6

380

31

14

2014

11

605

88

31

2013

13

822

107

64

2012

14

984

92

53

2011

15

700

88

56

2010

13

827

102

61

total

137

9618

848

455

Source: Firsthand field observation- Israeli violations monitoring section- LRC , January 2019.

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Column chart shows number of self-demolished properties in east Jerusalem

About Silwan: [1]

1 Km south Jerusalem, Silwan is surrounded by Jerusalem (north & east), the green line (west) ,  Ath-Thori and Jabal Al-Mukabir (south).

Silwan has an area of 1,400 dunums, 855 of them are the town’s built up area.

[1] GIS-LRC