Land Research Center - LRC

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


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On March 19, 2018,  citizen Faisal Mohammed Jum’a self-demolished his house in the village of Jabal Al-Mukabber following an order made by the occupation municipality under the pretext of building without a permit. The affected owner intended to move to the new house with his six member family including four children

Faisal Jum’a told Land Research Center  that he had built his house about 6 months ago. Earlier this year, the municipal court issued a decision to demolish it and he was able to postpone the demolition order in an attempt to obtain the necessary permits, but the municipality refused. The District Court also issued a decision to demolish the house. In order to avoid paying a fine of more than 70 thousand shekels for demolition costs as well as the cost of municipal crews and the forces that were going to join them in executing the demolition process, Jum’a was forced to self-demolish his house.

Jum’a said that the house was about 150 square meters in size and is composed of three bedrooms, a living room, a toilet and a kitchen.

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.

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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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