Israel to demolish two buildings in occupied East Jerusalem, 29 Palestinians will be displaced
Hana started saving to build her "dream" home when she was only 17. Back then, she had started working as a hairdresser, and her father, Muhamad Nassar, had allocated her part of his land to build herself a home next to her brothers and sister.
"I was a bride when I moved into this house. I got married when I was a little over 18," she said.
"I paid for it", she said as she stood on the veranda.
"I designed it; I always imagined what my home would be like", she added, trying to suppress her frustration.
Hana, now a wife and a mother to three boys and two girls, all teenagers, is frantically looking for a place to rent: her belongings, furniture, disassembled dressers, and bed frames outside her home. And, the electricity has been cut off.
The homes belong to Hana and Fadi Tweel, Murad Nassar, Asem Burqan, Mu'tasem Burqan and Muath Burqan. In total, 29 people will soon be displaced.
If they don't heed, the municipality will send its crews to demolish any time after the June 6 deadline and impose a fine on the residents. The amount of the penalty may well exceed twenty-thousand dollars, according to the residents.
Hana, 38 and her husband Fadi, 42, have been fighting legal battles with the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality to save their home for nearly two decades. During that time, the couple paid high fines for constructing without a permit and lawyers fees in the hope that they would persuade city officials to allow them to keep their home. But it was all in vain.
The city wants the two buildings demolished and to seize the land for public use.
In October 2021, the city forced three of Hana's brothers to demolish their homes in the same compound. In a span of 19 months, the city would have displaced 65 people, all related to each other, from their homes.
Home demolitions are quite common in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the occupied West Bank, which makes up roughly 61 per cent.
According to data gathered by the United Nations, in the first quarter of 2023, Israeli authorities have either demolished, forced people to destroy or seized 290 Palestinian-owned structures across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Most of the structures were demolished for lack of building permits.
"413 people, including 194 children, were displaced", UN figures say.
Seventy-nine structures were targeted in East Jerusalem alone.
The reported figures exceed last year's for the same period and are the highest since 2016.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, precisely 56 years ago in June 1967—in a war it had initiated. Then, contra to international law, it annexed East Jerusalem but never granted Israeli citizenship to the city's Palestinian inhabitants.
Most world countries consider East Jerusalem an occupied city with only very few embassies in Jerusalem. In 2018, the United States, under Donald Trump, moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move drew worldwide condemnation and anger from the Palestinian side.
Hana and Fadi must now decide if they want to self-demolish their home of 24 years, dreadful as it is, but would be less costly than the alternative. The alternative would be to stay and let the Israeli authorities send a demolition crew and a large police force to do the nasty work.
"We can't afford to pay a demolition crew, and we can't afford to go out and rent a new place", Hana said.
"We will stay here", she added.