Lod residents hope for legal solution after home demolition

Days after bulldozers from ILA level 7 illegally built homes, residents of Arab neighborhood seem resigned to their fate.

December 15, 2010 02:06
3 minute read.
Remains of rubble from a demolition in Lod.

Lod Demolition 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Residents of an Arab neighborhood in Lod seemed resigned to their fate on Tuesday, a day after bulldozers from the Israel Lands Administration leveled seven illegally built homes during the winter’s first storm.

“Why would we build all over again only to have the houses demolished a second time? We don’t have anywhere to go for now or any way to rebuild, so we’ll just try to find some sort of solution or some legal resolution,” said Sharazade Abu-Eid, 25, who lived in one of the seven homes with her parents and four siblings.

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The area in question is about the size of a city block in a blighted corner of town where most of the housing looks slapdash and tied together by odds and ends. Those that were demolished Monday stood at the end of Rehov Helen Keller, the same street where Emil Halili, 27, was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of her 8-year-old son in early October. The quarter seems worlds away from Tel Aviv, only 15 km to the northwest, past the black plumes of smoke from trash fires climbing into the sky.

Most of neighborhood’s residents do not own the legal tenders to their land, which the state has zoned for agricultural use. Like many in other Israeli-Arab districts in Israel, most describe their situation as a vacuum created by a lack of government housing initiatives coupled with an inability to obtain building permits.

On Tuesday, people from the quarter set up a “mourning tent” near the site of the demolitions, while inside the former seven-house complex, dozens of local kids climbed and played in the rubble, which reached a height of several meters. The debris was a mix of concrete, furniture, appliances and personal belongings, and had the appearance of an area that was vacated at a moment’s notice.

The Israel Lands Administration said Tuesday that it razed the homes after receiving the approval of every branch of the Israeli court system, and after the Supreme Court decided not to interfere. It said it gave 21 days advance notice of the demolitions, which were coordinated with police “due to the sensitivity of the matter.”

“The demolitions were carried out on illegal construction totaling seven buildings on land that is zoned for agricultural use,” an ILA statement said. It added that the families whose homes were demolished “will not be compensated because they invaded public lands managed by the ILA.”

A spokesman for the Lod municipality said Tuesday that the city had done its part to provide social services for the newly homeless, who received city assistance in finding temporary housing with family and friends.

The organization “Mobadarah – Arab Emergency Center” organized a charity drive Monday night, collecting blankets, tents and mattresses from Israeli Arab communities across the country.

On Tuesday afternoon, Zaki Abu-Eid, 45, stood atop the rubble of his late father’s house where he was born and raised, and which stood next door to his own home, where he lived with his 12-year-old daughter and other family members.

“I was at work when I got a call that they were destroying the houses,” Abu-Eid said. “I rushed over but the police had set up a roadblock and the yassamnikim (anti-riot police) wouldn’t let me in. By the time I got in, the house was gone.”

Like the rest of the residents who commented on the demolitions, Abu-Eid said he had no intention – or ability – to rebuild his home and hoped for some sort of resolution in the courts.

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