10 Jerusalemite families are threatened with displacement

BOTTOM - Letter from Palestine
Rania Al-Ghouj poses for a photo with her sons Iyad and Ahmad, outside the apartment building where they live, on November 9, 2021. (Photo: Mohammad Al-Kassim/Jordan News)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Time is running out on another Palestinian group of families under threat to be homeless in occupied East Jerusalem, this time in Al-Tur neighborhood. اضافة اعلان

The families received temporary relief on Wednesday morning when their lawyer succeeded in getting a temporary stay of the demolition order. 
“We found that there is room to stop the demolition based on the fact that some apartment owners have not received a demolition notice,” says attorney Medhat Diba.

According to Diba, the demolition decision has been postponed until December 9, 2021. 

More than 70 members of these families live with the fear of demolition and the specter of losing their only housing after a decision by the Israeli authorities to demolish their residential building.

The five-story, 10 apartment building, has been home to 10 families since 2011. They complain that the Israeli municipality has been threatening to expel them and demolish their building under the pretext of not having a building permit.

Fayez Saeed Khalfawi has lived in the building since 2011, where he shares an apartment with his son. “We tried to apply for building permits several times but were rejected every time,” he said.

He has two sons, Saeed and Sanan, who are both married and live in the same building. Khalfawi lives with Sanan, a mechanic and father of three. Saeed, also a mechanic, lives across the hall from his father with his six children. 

Khalfawi is currently unemployed but used to drive a cement mixer truck before getting sick.
“I have a pacemaker, and cancer. I receive chemotherapy but I can’t work,” he explained.

Khalfawi told Jordan News that the residents own the land, and they are not bothering anyone nor encroaching on a street or a settlement.
“We are targeted as Jerusalemites. If someone Jewish was living here, the building would get a permit in a minute, and they would give them all the amenities and do everything for them,” he said, adding that the Israeli government isn’t interested in keeping any Palestinians in Jerusalem. He stressed that apartment prices in Jerusalem are exorbitant.

“My children and I paid for this apartment with our sweat and blood. We spent all our savings, and sold my children’s wives’ gold. If I wanted to buy a house today with a permit, I would need to come up with close to $500,000 — and even if we asked to take a loan, they would not give us one.”

If this building were demolished, it would shatter with it the dreams of many of the residents, especially the young.

Ahmed, 12, he told Jordan News that he is worried his family won’t have a place to call home if the demolition takes place.

“We are sad. My father paid a lot for the apartment. When I go to school, I think that I may not have a home, so I can’t focus with my teachers,” he said.
Rania Al-Ghouj lives in an apartment with her husband, and her married son Iyad.

“I have lived in this apartment for 11 years. There are 10 people in the apartment. I bought it with my husband and our children paid with us; the whole family helped pay for it.”

Ghouj told Jordan News that they, like the other residents, pay about  JD1,400 in taxes and fines each month. 

“We do not have an alternative place to live. The police come by regularly to take pictures and leave. All we can do is wait.”
Like other residents, Ghouj said they have applied for building permits at least five times.

“The Israeli municipality rejected us every time,” without ever giving the family a consistent reason for their refusal, she explained.

“Every time they come up with a new excuse. Once they said a street will pass through here, and once they (said they were going) to build a school. I mean, they don’t know what they want to do. It is a displacement policy,” Ghouj said.

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