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Women's Voices: Anaheed R. - Property destruction

Name: Anaheed R.
Age: 52
Location: Ath Thuri, East Jerusalem
Nature of incident: Property
Date of incident: 2 January 2017

On 2 January 2017, the husband of 52-year-old woman from East Jerusalem seals their house with bricks based on a court decision due to lack of building permit.”

Anaheed is a 52-year-old mother of 5 children from Ath Thuri neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
“My name isAnaheed and I am 52 years old. I live in Ath Thuri in East Jerusalem with my husband Durgham (60) and we have five children; the oldest is Hind (32) and the youngest is Reem (16y). I live with my family in this house since 1996; it is 175 square meters and is on the ground floor.”
“My husband applied for a building permit to the Israeli authorities in 1995; we hired a lawyer and an architect and we prepared all the necessary papers to obtain the building permit. Our application was rejected.”
“Sometime in November 1996, and after we moved into the house, we received our first demolition order. My husband informed the lawyer and we immediately started to work on obtaining a building permit again. In that same year, 1996, we had a hearing and we were fined 20.000NIS, and my husband paid it.”
“Over the years we paid over 160.000NIS; including all the expenses regarding obtaining the building permit, the lawyer’s expenses and other legal expenses. Several hearings were conduct in the past years regarding the building permit; each time the hearing was postponed, and we had to keep following up the process. My family felt drained psychologically and financially; I reached a point where I wasn’t managing the stress well, watching my husband struggling so much broke me down.”
“On 2 January 2017, at around 8:00a.m., I was home alone when I heard loud banging at the front door; someone was yelling in Arabic for me to open the door. When I opened the door I was surprised to see two municipality employees along with four armed Israeli police.”
“My hands started to shiver when the municipality employee handed me demolition order written in Hebrew and in Arabic.”
“The municipality employee asked about my husband, he was speaking to me in a rude and provocative way, I told him that he was at work, he then checked my ID, then he and his colleague entered the house and took pictures of it, and after 15 minutes they left. I remained calm all the time but when the municipality employees and the police left the house I broke down crying.”
“On 3 January 2017, at around 10:00 a.m. Durgham and the lawyer went the municipality; a hearing was held that same day; the Lawyer submitted all papers that prove our long process of trying to obtain building permit. The court’s sentence was shocking to all of us; the court ordered that the house be demolished by us or by the municipality within 48 hours, and we had to pay a fine of 20.000NIS in payments within two years period.”
“The lawyer was able to appeal and had the court order to have the house sealed by cement bricks and metal instead of being demolished. I fainted immediately when my husband called me and informed about the court’s decision; later I couldn’t stop crying and felt helpless, frustrated at a law that prevents me from having decent living in my house.”
“On 4-5 January 2017, from 8:00 a.m. up until late hour at night, Durgham and my sons Hamzeh (19) and Mustafa (15) bought cement bricks for 2000NIS and started to seal the house, they took out all the house furniture and put it in the front yard of the house. Durgham took pictures of the house after it was sealed and sent it to the municipality as a proof.”
“I and my family stayed over my brother in law’s house for two days then we moved to an old house; which also belonged to our family, but the house is not hygienic and also it has complications regarding obtaining a building permit from the municipality, but it was our only choice. I find it hard to accept the court’s decisions and I feel frustrated and sad wasting a huge amount of money trying to maintain our house. “

“Currently I am trying to reach out for various NGOs, including women institutions, to get psychological and financial support.”

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