10th April 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil Team | Jerusalem, occupied Palestine
The 10th of April is the last day of the demolition order on the home of the Totanji family. The family lives in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz, a village in East Jerusalem near the Old City, which Israel has declared as a ‘National Park’ area. This despite it having always been a residential area. The family received the demolition order over a year and a half years ago, but lost the appeal against the order last month. Today is the last day of the demolition order, which leaves the family fearing that their house maybe demolished tonight.
The house is single-story with 4 bedrooms. However, it is currently the home of 16 people including a 7 month old baby, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. The family does not, as is the case with other Palestinian families in fear of house demolition, not have any where else to go, and will leave their whole life behind if their house is demolished. Just seven months ago, one of Totanji sons had his house demolished in the same area. This fear of losing ones home does not just apply to the Totanjis, but also to the rest of the residents in Palestine, due to the huge number of demolitions and demolition orders. In just the last week (31st March-6th April) 14 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli Forces.
Wadi al-Joz is located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem in a vulnerable area. It is a neighbourhood that suffers from many demolition orders and subsequent demolitions. This is due to Israel declaring parts of the area around the Old City in Jerusalem as a ‘National Park’, to “protect the historical land.” The area covers a huge residential areas containing villages which are already overcrowded including Wadi al-Joz. In addition to the Totanjis, 13 other families in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz are also in danger of demolition. The information regarding the so called ‘National Park’ was only relayed to these families in the past two years. And whilst Israeli authorities claim that it was declared a park more than 4 decades ago, regardless, this declaration concerning annexed territory is in direct violation of international law.
The family is seeking an international presence to defer the demolition and deter the Israeli authorities. Internationals will be in the house from this evening and for the foreseeable future to prevent the demolition. There is a press conference planned tomorrow morning, 11am on 11th Apri 2016, to announce the opening of a protest tent outside the Totanji family house. The families and the community of Wadi al-Joz invites everyone to attend the protest and to lend coverage to this important event.
Wadi Al-Joz, neighbourhood of East Jerusalem
Across the Fire Station, behind the Central Market or “Hisbi”
From Damascus Gate, follow the Old City Wall towards the Mount of Olives and continue down into Wadi Al-Joz. The home is on a dirt road on the right before you begin to go up the hill to the Mount of Olives. It is about 10-15 minute walk from Damascus Gate. Alternatively, you can drive down from the Mount of Olives past the Ibrahimiya School. The dirt road is on the left at the bottom of the hill just opposite the paved road that goes right into Wadi al-Joz.
Totanji family contact
Aref Tatanji: +972-(0)-508-133-590 (Arabic)
Press conference contact
Nureddin Amro: +972-(0)-525-271-587 (Arabic and English)
ISM media contact
Background about home demolitions:
House demolitions in International Humanitarian Law (Diakonia)
East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns (UN OCHA, August 2014)
The Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem and Its Implementation: A Legal Guide and Analysis (NorwegianRefugee Council, 2013)