Jerusalem Demolition Plan Could Force More Than 1,000 Arabs From Homes

Municipality Claims Buildings Were Constructed Without Permits

In a Neglected Neighborhood: Israel has initiated demolition proceedings against eleven high rise buildings including the one where Said Abu Asab lives.
Ben Lynfield
In a Neglected Neighborhood: Israel has initiated demolition proceedings against eleven high rise buildings including the one where Said Abu Asab lives.

By Ben Lynfield

Published December 06, 2013, issue of December 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Ras Khamis, a poor neighborhood in a neglected part of Jerusalem, might be mistaken for being outside the city altogether. It lies beyond the separation barrier that Israel has erected to fence itself off from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and the neighborhood’s Palestinian residents receive almost no city services.

They burn their own garbage, among other things, because the municipality conducts no garbage pickups in the district.

But one day in late October, Daoud Sabha, who recently put his life savings into buying a high-rise apartment in Ras Khamis, discovered that the municipality had not forgotten about his new neighborhood after all. Posted to his high-rise building, he found a copy of a government request, filed recently with a Jerusalem court, to demolish the building and 10 other high-rise apartment buildings nearby.

If it’s carried out, that will be the largest demolition project implemented in Jerusalem since Israel won control of the city’s eastern Palestinian sector from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War. More than 1,000 people could lose their homes.

“This whole neighborhood is poor people,” said Sabha, who worked in maintenance at the Jerusalem Post for 19 years. “Where will they live? In an alley?”

Sabha said that he had put all his severance pay into buying his apartment. And he still had to go into debt to afford the buying price of over $85,000. But the city says it is simply enforcing the law and protecting public safety, because the entire complex was built without a permit and in disregard of engineering and building codes.

“It’s the municipality’s obligation to make sure all buildings are safe,” said the Jerusalem municipal government spokeswoman Brachie Sprung. “What is going to happen if something happens to the building? We’ll be held responsible.”

Sabha snorted at this explanation. “All of a sudden the municipality remembers it’s without a permit,” he said. “They should have said so from the beginning… This is racism against poor people who need houses. It is great tyranny to put people into the streets.”

Dovish Israeli advocacy groups say that Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem are forced to build illegally because of discriminatory zoning and licensing practices designed to protect the city’s Jewish majority.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.