Danger of eviction looms - the homes of the Alayan family are at risk
February 10, 2021

Roses, trees and stones bear witness to decades-old life and memories that members of the Palestinian Alayan family carry in their hearts, in houses some of which were built before the occupation, on the lands of the village of Beit Safafa, south of Jerusalem, more than eighty years ago, and on its stones and among its trees are men and women who worked and lived, and children played and had funbefore all of its members became prisoners of fear that they would be evicted from their homes, confiscating them and thus turning them into a settlement outpost.

"These are our homes, we were born and raised in them and we inherited them from our grandfathers, and it is not possible to leave them." This is what the Palestinian Hussein Alayan said, but he is afraid along with his family members that they will have to be evicted if they do not make the 92 thousand shekels fine in 5 days.

The prosecution of the Alayan family by the “Land Department” authority began in 2016, when the family was surprised by imposing1.6 million shekels on it from the “land property tax”. The fines accumulated and in 2019 amounted to 1.9 million shekels, and during the past years the family tried to object to the tax imposed on them and went to the lawyers, but to no avail, until what happened at the end of last year which the family never expected.

Hussein Alayan explained: “The occupation authorities claimed that this money was accumulating on the family since 1986, but the family rejected the claim and confirmed that it had not been informed of this before 2016, and it did not receive any claim to pay any money. Also, the property tax is imposed on empty lands that do not have construction on them, but this land contains two houses and a building consisting of two apartments, and one of the houses has existed since 1936, that is, before the occupation!”

He added: "On December 31, 2020, joint forces from the "Procedures Department", the police and workers stormed the family’sfour homes, and demanded that we leave them in preparation for evacuation.After interventions by village notables and judicial attempts that lasted for several hours, the eviction was suspended, and an agreement was concluded as follows:

Reducing debts to the tax department so that the total amount becomes 600 thousand shekels in the form of monthly payments of "50 thousand shekels", and immediate payment in the amount of 50 thousand shekels.  In the event of non-payment of the required monthly amount, the agreement is considered void, and accordingly, the eviction decision will take effect at any moment.

The payment is due in the middle of every month. Alayan said: “There are several days left on the due date of the monthly payment, and this month, its value is 93,000 shekels, which is 50 thousand shekels (a debt payment) and 43,000 shekels (a fee payment for the crews). To this day, we have not been able to accumulate a single shekel."

Alayan pointed out that his family and the people of the village were able to pay the "monthly payment last month," as well as the immediate payment at the end of the year, but he is thinking about the rest of the monthly installments and their high value, and said: "I suffer from health problems, and my brother Nabil suffers from a disability. He is unable to move and speak after he was attacked by a settler during the second intifada, and we are receiving insurance benefits and are not working."

Alayan said that if the homes were evicted, they will be sold in a public auction, and the settlement associations will be the first to buy.