Occupied Jerusalem- In the Jaabis neighborhood in the town of Jabal al-Mukaber, south of Jerusalem, the sight of the rubble of the demolished house of its owner, Thaer Jaabis, was exhausting. He was forced to demolish it with his own hands after living in it for 18 years, during which he raised his family of 7 children. They lost their shelter and greenhouse overnight.
Thaer built his house in 2006 without obtaining the necessary permits from the occupation municipality in Jerusalem, because he could not afford to pay their exorbitant costs, but 10 years ago he began the procedures for obtaining them, and paid about half a million shekels ($135,000) for that. However, his house, which was built on… An area of 100 square meters was threatened with demolition, and this is what it was forced to do on January 20 of this year.
Jaabis told Al Jazeera Net, “I demolished my dreams and memories with my own hands, because the municipality threatened me to pay the costs of the work of its bulldozers and its forces, which would secure the demolition process if it did so, and because I was burdened with debts and responsibilities, I had to demolish the house, despite my repeated request to give me more time to obtain the necessary licenses.”
“The house was built 18 years ago and 13 people live in it.” The Jerusalemite citizen, Thaer Jaabis, talks about the suffering of his family and children in the extreme cold after the occupation municipality forced him to leave. #Jerusalem Forcibly demolishing his house located in the village of Jabal Mukaber in occupied Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/PS3O8DKPk8
– Al Jazeera Net | Jerusalem (@Aljazeeraquds) January 22, 2024
Licensing costs are not limited only to municipal fees, but Al-Maqdisi is also forced to pay exorbitant costs to the lawyers and engineers who go through the process of obtaining the license, and Jaabis says that he is unable to provide all of that.
Because all options are bitter, this young man refuses to rent a house in the city, due to the scarcity of available homes and their high costs, which range between 1,200 and 1,500 dollars per month. He also rejects the idea of living in neighborhoods located behind the separation wall, where real estate values are considered low compared to residential apartments within the city. .
Regarding this, he said, “Everyone wishes to live a moment inside Jerusalem, so how can its people leave it? I will not leave the city, even though no one has extended a helping hand to me since I demolished my house, and they did not even provide me with a tent to set up and stay on my land.”
The situation of this young man is like that of all young Jerusalemites, for whom the housing crisis in the city is the biggest dilemma they face when they reach marriageable age. The solutions are either to abstain from it or migrate voluntarily to the neighborhoods located behind the separation wall, or to areas of the West Bank, where the price of moving to may be the loss of the right to Residence in Jerusalem, or they take the step of renting homes at exorbitant prices or building homes without permits.
In his interview with Al Jazeera Net, Jerusalemite engineer Abdul Karim Lafi traces the housing crisis in Jerusalem to the first days of the occupation of the east of the city in 1967, when bulldozers demolished Moroccan lane adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, and its houses were leveled to the ground and established Al Buraq Square Designated for Jewish prayer on its ruins.
Then, according to Lavi, Israeli laws and policies followed, aiming to deepen the housing crisis in the city and push its residents to emigrate silently and voluntarily.
It was assumed that Jerusalemites would not be prosecuted and prosecuted after 7 years of constructing their homes, even if they were built without a license on the condition that the procedures were continued, but the new laws now pursue and punish the quarantine. If the municipality is unable to prosecute the person due to the passage of the specified period, it punishes the quarantine because it was built without a license. So it demolished it, according to the Al-Maqdisi engineer.
Form No. 4 and proof of land registration in the Land Registry are added to the list of impossible requirements that exhaust Jerusalemites and make the idea of owning a house without the risk of demolition complicated and sometimes impossible.
Lafi believes that self-demolition has become the most dangerous phenomenon in the city, which has become clearly evident in the last six years after repeated demolition by the occupation municipality bulldozers caused a media sensation, so the latter resorted to pressuring Jerusalemites to demolish their homes with their own hands in order to avoid the exorbitant demolition costs that they pay in exchange for municipal crews doing so.
Licenses are expensive
The Al-Maqdisi engineer confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that obtaining building permits in Jerusalem became more complicated after the war that broke out on the seventh of last October, and many of the files submitted to the municipality before this date failed.
Regarding the cost of obtaining a building permit for one residential apartment in Jerusalem, Lafi indicated that it ranges between 50 and 70 thousand dollars, which is the amount for which a Palestinian can build an integrated house in areas of the West Bank, outside the city of Jerusalem.
The cost of purchasing an unfurnished apartment in Jerusalem with an area of 110 square meters ranges between 350 and 450 thousand dollars per apartment.
All of this falls within the policy of displacement, because the young man from Jerusalem does not have these amounts in his prime, and therefore “he is forced to live behind the separation wall, and this is silent displacement, where a person expels himself,” Lafi added.
He concluded his speech to Al Jazeera Net by pointing out that the shortage in the number of residential apartments in Jerusalem was estimated 3 years ago at 30,000 apartments, which young people wish they had been able to buy or build, but that has become a dream that haunts them, and they have no choice but to continue living in the nightmare of demolition, renting, or moving to… Behind the separation wall, there is overcrowding, random construction, and military checkpoints that separate them from the city center and disrupt their daily lives.
According to official Palestinian estimates, the number of demolition operations in the Jerusalem Governorate reached 337 during 2023, in addition to more than 263 demolition notices in the same year, while the total number of homes at risk of demolition was estimated at about 22 thousand until mid-2023.