Sacher Park squatter Yafit Dahan 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The saga of the battered protest tents in Sacher Park will come to an end next
week, after homeless families spent seven months in the sun, rain and hail in an
effort to force the Housing and Construction Ministry to improve public housing
in the capital.
The Jerusalem District Court for Administrative Issues
ruled on Wednesday that the last protesters living in the tents must evacuate
the park on March 11.
Judge Yigal Marzel ruled that adequate solutions
had been found for the 11 demonstrators and their children who petitioned the
court in January to stay in the park. A group of anonymous business owners
agreed to donate whatever amount is needed to make up the difference between the
municipality’s temporary grants and the actual cost of rent, said Yaffit Dahan,
one of the demonstrators.
In January, the municipality proposed
temporary, sixmonth grants for rental assistance of up to NIS 2,500 per month
per family, with an additional grant from the Housing and Construction Ministry.
The city’s offer was an attempt to get the residents to leave the park or face
However, the demonstrators petitioned the courts to
stay and Marzel granted an injunction against the eviction. The injunction is
set to expire at the beginning of March.
Dahan, a mother of five who
lived at the tent encampment with her children and husband since the beginning
of the summer, said the families would abide by the ruling with heavy
“It’s hard that we’re in this situation and we didn’t even get to
bring about one small victory,” she said. They had no interest in breaking the
law and did not want to be considered criminals after such a long and difficult
struggle, Dahan said.
Though at times more than 30 families lived in the
tents, only two families and two individuals were left in the park after the
bitterly cold winter forced most of the 22 families to find
“If I had the ability, I wouldn’t take the money from the
donor, if I had the option to keep fighting and stay in the tent, I would,”
“My goal wasn’t the money, it wasn’t for a year of rent, it
was about changing the criteria, changing the policies, changing the government.
It was making sure that people that lack things will get the things that they
deserve, and not get thrown out onto the street like I was.”
to The Jerusalem Post from a friend’s house where she was searching the internet
for apartments and staying out of the foul weather. Recently, someone broke the
lock on her shack and destroyed it, stealing many belongings as
Living in a public park means the families deal with burglary,
sexual predators, vandalism, alcoholics and drug dealers, Dahan
Throughout the fall and winter, 22 children ranging from a newborn
baby to age 19 lived in the tents.
The ruling means that the
demonstrators will have to clear their tents before the Jerusalem marathon on
March 16, which starts and ends at Sacher Park. As the city intensified their
efforts to remove the tents, the residents complained that the municipality
wanted to “clean them out” before the marathon, resident Keren Vaknin said in
During a recent interview with the Post, Mayor Nir Barkat
acknowledged their presence was problematic. “They’re sitting at the beginning
of the marathon, and while they have the right to demonstrate, the public also
has the right to run a marathon with little interference,” said Barkat. “I think
we’re balancing the two in a fair way.”
While Dahan is preparing for the
next chapter of the struggle, the future remains uncertain.
for a year, and after that year you won’t see us back in the park,” she
“But as to what will happen, I have no answer.”