Video: Wadi Yasoul neighborhood...The full story of an upcoming displacement
December 8, 2021

“84 houses, 56 of them have demolition decisions in effect, I mean, maybe before we finish this interview, the occupation police will tell us that we have to demolish our home before tomorrow morning.”

“We have no alternative but to spread our tents and sit on our lands until the last breath.”

"My father built the house in 1972, and I completed after him. I built the one on my father's land."

"My message to the bulldozer driver, my message to the soldier who wants to come and displace me, my message to the municipality employee who issued the demolition decision, my message to the judge who issued the decision, I want to live like you, you live in your home, I want to live in my house, you live in safety, I also want to live in safety. I want my son to play in front of his home like your kids. I want my son to play without being scared that he might come back tomorrow from school and not find his home.”

"The journey is difficult, but there is no escape, we must preserve the homes"

"I'm not asking for the impossible, I'm asking to stay in my home"

“I want to stay in my house.” This simple demand became a wish made by the old and the young in Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, after the occupation court rejected the appeal submitted by the neighborhood’s residents demanding a freeze on demolition decisions against 84 buildings in the neighborhood, 56 of which face the immediate threat of demolition.

Under this decision, it became available to the occupation municipality to carry out house demolitions at any moment, under the pretext of the settlement project “expanding the Peace Forest” located along the lands of the neighborhood.

“Wadi Yasoul neighborhood was classified as an open green area, within the “Ein Mim Nine” project that was approved in 1977, like large parts of East Jerusalem, which were classified as open green areas for demographic and political reasons, to limit the number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, of course the reasons are not professional engineering, but demographic settlement reasons. This neighborhood is located in Silwan in a sensitive area close to the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and there are settlement ambitions in the neighborhood.”

"This is the entire residential neighborhood that includes streets, houses, a mosque and agricultural areas, and the so-called Peace Forest is located in the area near us, the OCHA report of the United Nations in Virginia, shows us how many families are threatened with displacement.”

60 families are threatened with displacement from the Wadi Yasoul neighborhood, located southwest of Silwan, which extends over an area of 450 dunoms, and is inhabited by 1,050 Jerusalemites.

725 of them are threatened in the safest place…350 of them are children.

"My house is 120 square meters. I built it in 1993 and I was fined three times for it. We asked to organize the area 3 times and every time they refused. They don't want to keep anyone in the area, they want to vacate it by any means."

“Our ancestors used to go to the neighborhood of Wadi Yasoul, for planting and harvesting. My grandmother used to come from Wadi Hilweh neighborhood to pick olives and grapes. I also had an aunt whose name was Maryam, she built her home in 1977, she was carrying water from Wadi Hilweh to here, and as soon as she extended a water pipeline, she was fined, and had to do public service because she built without a license, however, there was a decision to demolish the house, and until today the case is open. Days and times have rolled and the families have grown and people want to expand. Where should we build? Of course, in our lands.”

"The whole neighborhood has become afflicted, and is at risk of displacement. No one of the people of the neighborhood will demolish his home, and no one will surrender and leave his land, we are all steadfast to the last breath."

In 2004, residents’ attempts to protect their homes from demolition began, and they submitted to the District Planning and Building Committee a detailed structural map in order to regularize the status of the houses, but in 2008 the committee refused to approve the map on the grounds that it violated the instructions of the “Jerusalem 2000” plan, which specified that the land on which the neighborhood was built is classified as a “green space.” The residents continued their attempts to submit requests and postpone demolition decisions, as they succeeded in freezing the demolition decision for 100 buildings in the neighborhood.

"The residents have tried since 2004 to submit projects and approve the buildings that exist today in the neighborhood, but unfortunately, despite the positive promises over the years from the planning authorities, they were backtracking on the promises and refused to approve the classification of the neighborhood from an open green area to a residential area, and for this reason and because of the obstruction of the project, the requests were rejected. We succeeded in freezing the decision to demolish 100 buildings in the Wadi Yasoul neighborhood from 2004 until today, but unfortunately the project was obstructed and rejected, and for this reason the court rejected the extension decision, as well as the appeal requests.”

“The houses, on the right and left, are all subject to demolition, a complete extermination of the entire neighborhood, even the elderly and the houses in which there are children with special needs are at risk of demolition. There are people that live on Oxygen, there is a child here from the Shweiki family that lives on Oxygen all day long. He appeals to protect his children; they have no other shelter."

"These homes are under threat of demolition. Families of patients with special needs, elderly people, have no alternative and no other shelter."

“We have the possibility that they allow us to appeal to the Supreme Court, but 95% of the appeals submitted to the Supreme Court of Justice were rejected, and if the rejection decision is issued, it will set a legal precedent that they will use against the people of Wadi Yasoul neighborhood and other neighborhoods in Jerusalem. We will try to resubmit the engineering projects, and put pressure on the organizing committees to organize the neighborhood, and we will submit new requests to freeze the demolition decision.”

The Israeli construction plans that are followed, have demographic and organizational goals, not primarily a professional organization, as the families’ lawyer asserts. Accordingly, entire neighborhoods were excluded from the plans, which made the people facing the threat of mass forced displacement and fighting a psychological war that crystallizes in the loss of the past and displacement in the streets without a shelter and without a future.