Buildings in Kafr Akab. Out of some 60,000 residents in Kafr Akab, about 52,000 are living in illegal buildings.
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
The Jerusalem District Court issued an order on Thursday, halting the Jerusalem Municipality’s demolition of five buildings in Kafr Akab.
According to a municipality plan, a public road is to be paved in the east Jerusalem neighborhood next to the nearby security barrier, replacing buildings in which 138 apartments are located, some them uninhabited.
Residents have filed an appeal to prevent the planned demolition, to which the court has ordered the municipality to respond by the end of January and scheduled a discussion on the matter for February 28.
Kafr Akab is the northernmost neighborhood of Jerusalem and is located behind the security barrier that separates it from the rest of the capital. The municipality borders Ramallah to the north and the Palestinian part of Kafr Akab, which has its own municipality.
Because of its location and the lack of proper urban planning in east Jerusalem, the neighborhood has attracted many residents who did not manage to build a house within the city limits. Municipality officials and security forces rarely enter the neighborhood, leaving supervision of construction in the area virtually non-existent.
Out of some 60,000 residents in Kafr Akab, about 52,000 live in illegal buildings.
Last week, the chairman of the local neighborhood committee, Mounir “Abu Ashraf” Zghayer, told The Jerusalem Post
that the request to build a road along the wall was not made by the neighborhood committee, but by the municipality-run Local Community Administration, which received recommendations from the Palestinian Kafr Akab Municipality on the PA side of the neighborhood.
“Essentially, the municipality is getting recommendations from the Palestinian Authority and not from its own Israeli residents,” he said.
Zghayer acknowledged that the buildings scheduled for demolition were built illegally, but said the method chosen to destroy them, explosion, will cause collateral damage to adjacent buildings – which were also built illegally.
“They our putting our lives in danger,” he said.
The Jerusalem Municipality denied that the decision was delivered to it, but acknowledged that it was reached in the presence of only one side.
It added in a statement to the Post: “We will learn the appeal and then respond. It should be stressed that the demolition order was approved in 16 different judiciary levels, including three times in the High Court.”