Pictures: The occupation demolishes two houses and displaces 23 individuals
May 17, 2016

The occupation municipality’s bulldozers demolished on Tuesday early morning two houses owned by Totah family in the neighborhood of Al-Sowaneh east of the Old City of Jerusalem in execution of the District Court’s decision under the pretext of building without a permit on lands classified as “national parks”.

The demolition operation came without prior notice as the Israeli Prime Minister had frozen the District Court’s decision last month.

It is noteworthy that the families of Aref Tutanji and Mazen Ghanem live in the two houses.

Aref Tutanji explained that the occupation soldiers raided his house at 4 a.m. and quickly stormed-in concurrently when another force was raiding the house of Ghanem family. The families were only given several minutes to evacuate and were not allowed to take any of their personal items with them; the forces also attempted to assault the families and beat them.

Tutanji explained that 16 individuals including 5 children live in the 80-square meters house; they have been living there for 18 years.

He said: “The District Court issued a decision to demolish both houses last March and which was effective a month later. Afterwards, Netanyahu issued a decision to freeze demolition orders and we were surprised today by the demolition which came without prior notice.”

He added: “The demolition order came after legal battles in the Israeli courts in order to protect the homes on one side and protect 27 Dunoms with 10 houses established on them from being confiscated on another. The owners of the land, Totah and Ansari families, as well as the families living in the houses fought in court for several years.”

Tutanji also explained that there are 10 houses established on this land, half of them built before the occupation of Jerusalem and the other half built nearly 20 years ago.

He added that the land is 27 Dunoms (27000 square meters) owned by Ansari and Totah families but the occupation authorities classified it as “national parks” and therefore construction is prohibited. The so-called Nature and Parks authority has been trying to confiscate the land and turn it into a national park to serve the settlers in the area.

Ghanem family consists of 7 individuals and explained that the forces raided their home which is built from bricks and tin plates in the early morning hours and evacuated them and prevented them from approaching their home until the demolition process was over.

The family added that the municipality crews took some of their furniture out and the rest was demolished with the house such as closets, kitchenware and air conditioning units.

Ghanem family pointed out that their houses consisted of two rooms and their facilities where they have been living for two years.