TENT CITY in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Twenty-two homeless families will remain in their tents and shacks in Sacher
Park after the Jerusalem Administrative Court on Monday put a two-month
temporary injunction on the municipality’s plans to evict the families this
The ruling means that the families will stay in the park through
Jerusalem’s frigid winter, something the city had been trying to avoid by
offering them partial rent for a six-month period.
But the tent
encampment residents say the mayor was trying to “clean them out” before the
marathon, which starts and ends at Sacher Park on March 16.
“He wants to
kick us all out, but we’ll be here for the marathon,” said resident Vaknin
Keren, a single mother whose son is in the army. “We’re really happy we won at
least in the injunction, the judge said they need to find us something more
relevant, for a year, two years, more permanent solutions.”
just throw us out,” Keren added, as she tried to beat dried mud out of her
pillows, which were damaged in the heavy rainfall that had soaked Jerusalem over
the past few days.
The residents are concerned that if they abandon their
public protest, the Construction and Housing Ministry will forget about them and
they will be even worse off when the six-month period of rental assistance ends.
Accepting the municipality’s offer of immediate rental assistance requires
residents to sign contracts that they will not return to a tent encampment in
“There is no dispute that the petitioners are not there by
choice, and it is not solely about a protest, but rather a serious absence of
housing,” said Judge Yigal Marzel in his ruling, adding that even the
municipality described the conditions as “inhumane.” He granted the two-month
injunction in order to give the residents additional time to pressure the
ministry to grant some of their demands.
The municipality claims they are
continuing to look for temporary housing for the families, despite the fact that
it is the responsibility of the Construction and Housing Ministry. The temporary
solution is a six-month grant for rental assistance of up to NIS 2,800 per month
per family, which would be supplemented by an additional grant from the
The emergency housing grants will cost a total of NIS
In a statement released by his office, Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat said he stressed to the tent encampment representatives that he is not
against their protest for housing, but that he cannot let it continue to
“negatively affect the public sphere and become a health and security