Monday, January 18

Black forces in a not so orange orange grove

When demolished, a home makes an awful sound. Yesterday it went on for hours, the slow demolition process of the second floor of the Dake home. Large yellow machines slowly crunched away at the building. Huge blocks of falling concrete demolishing the garden in the same go.
The people watching on helplessly. Their possessions, clothes, furniture, kids' schoolbooks etc. out in the dust.

Two years ago some 100 people barricaded themselves on the roof of the Dake home in Jaffa's Dake orange grove and prevented its demolition. Yesterday the Dake family were less, much less lucky, when Ron Huldai's municipality goons demolished their home under the "protection" of hundreds of blimp led ninja-style clad special forces policemen.
In the early hours masked policemen entered the Dake home and arrested the men of the family and told the family's women to start packing. Literally hundreds of policemen, special forces and border police blocked off all roads to the Dake grove and the close surroundings.
Whole streets were closed to the public, even to those living there and wishing to go back home. The operations were led from a special command tent where police men kept track of the ground forces by means of a camera studded blimp high up in the air.

To understand the true impact of the demolition of the Dake house is is important to back in history.
The Dake family were the proud owners of a huge orange grove prior to 1948, the Naqbe, just south of Jaffa. 
In the grove were the large family home, storage facilities, guard houses, a pump house etc.
After 1948 the family stayed on. They lived in the grove and over time, as the family expanded, more houses were added. 
The municipality did not bother to make a zoning plan for the grove, although it is on municipal territory. As a result, it is impossible to receive a building permit for anything, not even for repairing your house: as there are no zoning plan definitions for the area, there is no buroicratic procedure possible for getting a building permit.
Yet the Dakes, who own the land, needed homes, so they constructed those without a permit.
The municipality never provided any services in the grove, there are no roads, no waste disposal, no kinder garden (by now there are a few hundred people, including many children, living in the grove). The sewage system is horrid and floods every now and then and until a few years ago every winter the grove was flooded. Only after a young child drowned inside his home, the municipality did something about the flood drains.

The lack of a zoning plan has been going on for some 60 years now. The Dakes cannot build anything on their land and live in poverty. When they try to build the municipality arrives and destroys. The houses  are rebuilt, making use of cheap materials or recycling some of the rubble in the construction of the new house, as all know it is only a matter of time until the next demolition.
After the municipality took out a demolition order on the flat he built for his son, Moussa Dake decided to fight back. He lost in the Tel Aviv peace court, but won an incredible victory in the regional court, where the judge criticised the municipality for 60 years of planning neglect. The Dakes felt victorious and the verdict was f major importance as it had implications for many other areas in the country as well.
But the municipality appealed to the high court of justice and won. The verdict in this case was formalistic and did not even try to deal with the serious criticism and legal concerns of the regional court's verdict.
The Dakes appealed once more, but the municipality decided not to wait for the court's decision and yesterday, in spite of the request to wait until the verdict, the goons went about their ugly business.
Moussa had become a symbol and the legal fight he put up was being followed by many involved in planning and housing rights.



Lirun said...

thats aweful.. mashharawi wrote about it in a local newsletter distributed in central yaffo..

Hamid said...

Thank you for writing about this. What an amazing blog! We don't get information like this here in New York City.

yudit said...

thanks, Hamid

E.H. said...

If more Americans knew about the Israeli home-demolition program, especially if told with the intelligence of this narrative, we might well see more rapid change. Few understand the profoundly undemocratic nature of Israel: that Palestinians cannot form a political party, that it was terrorism that brought Israel its nationhood, that populating the occupied territories is in direct violation of the fourth Geneva Convention.

It is so sad. My country is so self-absorbed and made complacent by Israeli propaganda.