Land Research Center - LRC

Israel Municipality in Jerusalem forces Palestinian to self-demolish his house in Silwan town


On March 19, 2018 , citizen Ishaq Shweiki 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, and in order not to cause damage to the first floor which was built more than 100 years ago.

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

Shweiki added that the house was built six years ago from reinforced concrete and gypsum, and is on the second floor with an area of about 50 square meters. Shweiki lives in the house with his five member family including two children.

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.

According to the field visits conducted by Land Research Center, the occupation municipality forced the owners of 115 residences to self-demolish their structures between 2010-2017. As a result, more than 700 citizens, half of whom are children became homeless.

Negative effects of self demolition on families: 

The self or silent demolition causes great pain and feelings of oppression. When the Israeli occupation carries out a demolition operation, the family gets more united in the face of injustice, especially children who become aware of the reality of the occupation. But when the father carries out the demolition, children become confused and view their caretaker as weak and helpless. This may lead to fragmentations, clashes and instability within the family, and children might suffer psychologically and lose trust in the family, society and future. Let alone the loss of money and efforts on the part of the breadwinner and the family.

This case study is part of Kan'aan Project

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