Wednesday, August 15

Another Jaffa family facing eviction and demolition

The house itself was constructed sometime during de 19th century, in the style typical for that period: vaulted ceilings, 90 cm thick walls built from local limestone. Small windows high up in the walls, almost a fortress.
The H. family have lived here for ever, the great great grandfather was born in this house. The elderly grandmother, a widow who is still alive, was born here as well, long before 1948. All of the extended family have always lived here and they have ample proof.

Some years ago, one of the ceilings caved in, while grandmother Zeinab was in her room. Wounded, she was brought to the hospital and after a few days returned home. Her son and daughters repaired the roof and replaced it with brand new roof tiles. While at it, they also painted the old walls in a fresh bright pearly white.
That's when the first strange letters started arriving: the municipality claimed they had illegally added a room.
The family answered that they had merely replaced the roof which had caved in. The roof was new, but the room wasn't. The municipality sent over a guy to check, who was so impressed by the new paint, that he decided most of the house (compound really) had been newly constructed. The family showing him the high vaulted ceilings and thick walls constructed from huge limestone blocks in obvious original Ottoman style, weren't able to convince him.

Then something even weirder happened, the Amidar public housing company sent them a court notice to inform them they had to leave their home, as it wasn't theirs.

Now the H. family can easily prove they lived in the house way before 1948. Grandma was born their and registered. As was common in those days, poor people didn't have testaments, they simply lived in the same house, generation after generation and all of the community simply knew the compound as the "H compound".

But Amidar have strong lawyers, and the H family are poor and not all of the older generation are literate. So they are faced with a demolition order for part of the home and an eviction order for all of the compound.
The H family are one of the families from Jaffa, from Al Ajami faced with demolition and eviction orders. Needless to say, they are an Arab family. The naqbe goes on and on.
The H family are trying to fight back.

Jaffa, summer 2007

No comments: