The Jerusalem Municipality issued a further 8 demolition orders on February 24 applying to Palestinian homes in Silwan village East Jerusalem. The main street of Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan collapsed that evening at the same point it collapsed in January due to structural damage caused by settler project “City of David”’s subterranean excavations.
A large force of Israeli Police and Border Police, accompanied by Jerusalem Municipality representatives, executed an early morning raid on the village of Silwan that day to deliver a further 8 administrative demolition orders. Amongst the affected families are that of Riad a-Tawil, Nayef Alqam, Hani Haymoni, Yassin Salaymeh and Salfiti.
The demolition orders state “Under Construction & Management Law of 1956 you are ordered to immediately halt all current construction work and return the area’s condition to its status prior to initial construction [to remove the structure entirely]. If no action is implemented with regards to this warning the Municipality will consider taking legal action against you via administrative demolition.”
Riad a-Tawil stated that Municipality representatives visited his shop in the Wadi Hilweh district of Silwan to measure and photograph it from the exterior prior to their delivery of the demolition order to be applied to the property. He denounced the exclusive enforcement of the law on Silwan’s Palestinian residents whilst various illegal settlement construction continues unabated in the village.
Hani Haymoni reports similar treatment, wherein Municipality officials photographed and assessed his family home from the outside before issuing its order for demolition. The house is home to 8 members of the Haymoni family.
The same evening at approximately 8:30pm the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood’s main street collapsed a second time, the cavity having been repaired since it collapsed at the same point on 2 January 2010. The collapse was due to structural damage caused by extensive excavations undertaken by settler conglomerate Elad’s “City of David” project underneath large areas of Silwan, severely compromising the structural integrity and safety of Palestinian homes, shops and streets. Elad has employed methods of “political archeology” to lay claim to the area, claiming to have uncovered the Biblical city of King David, reinforcing the right-wing ideological vision of Jerusalem as Israel’s unified capital on the basis of ancient history. Its plans are to convert the majority of Silwan in to a “Biblical theme park”, which, should they succeed would ethnically cleanse thousands of Palestinian residents from the region.
There are already over 200 standing demolition orders on Palestinian homes in Silwan that face a renewed threat since Jerusalem mayor Nir Barakat’s statement last week that the Municipality will implement all demolition orders on structures deemed illegal. The statement was made in response to an in effect order of eviction on the illegal Jewish settlement project of Beit Yehnatan in Silwan issued by the Jerusalem Civil Court. Although the law stipulating the illegality of construction without the required permit applies to all residents of Silwan, it has only been applied to Palestinians to date, betraying the Municipality’s racist policies regarding the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem. The law has been used as one of the Municipality’s fundamental tools in its attempts to limit or prevent natural growth of Silwan’s native population and its underhanded support for seemingly private settler projects such as Beit Yehnatan or Elad’s “City of David” project.