Photo Credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham via Flickr
Image: Silwan

An Arab resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan (Kfar ha-Shiloach) destroyed his own home on Saturday to avoid incurring a demolition fee to the Jerusalem Municipality, Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported.

According to the report, Abd al-Ghani Dweik, a resident of the al-Bustan area of Silwan, said that the Jerusalem municipality had issued a demolition order against his house, which he built illegally two years ago. The order came with a demolition fee of $22,700.

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According to Ma’an, citing local Arab activists, all 100 residential structures in the al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and at this point the estimated 1,570 local Arab residents have exhausted their legal recourse.

Ir David Foundation, a.k.a. Elad, has been working since the 1980s to obtain homes in Silwan area, which was settled by Jews from Yemen in the early 1880s. The Yemenite residents were pushed out by Arab pogroms in Silwan in the 1920s and ’30s, and the area was occupied by the Jordanians until 1967. Over that period, thousands of local Arabs have taken over the homes in the entire neighborhood.

The Ir David Foundation acquires property in the Silwan area by locating assets belonging to Jews and seeking legal action to return them to the original owners; buying properties belonging to absentee landlords; persuading Arab residents to sell their homes to Jews voluntarily, often at above market value; construction new Jewish neighborhoods in the area.

Now the labor of redeeming the neighborhood appear to reach the phase of removing an entire cluster of Arab squatters from al-Bustan, with structures rebuilt and either sold or rented to Jewish newcomers.

The Jerusalem municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to al-Bustan squatters in 2005. Silwan is one of many Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem that are seeing an influx of Jewish dwellers, as illegal Arab residents are finally being evicted.

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