Khalid Zir and his family moved into a cave after Israeli authorities demolished their home in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Buzzfeed’s Tasneem Nashrulla picked up the story.
According to the Associated Press, which broke the story earlier today, the 39-year-old maintenance worker and father of five had been living with his wife and children in a tin shack for about seven years. The shack was demolished because the family lacked a building permit, Israeli authorities say, but the facts on the ground indicate that a more perverse plan is at work.
Building permits are largely unaffordable and inaccessible for Palestinian families. Meanwhile, Israel subsidizes living spaces for Jewish Israeli settlements which have formed a tightening ring around the area. Zoning regulations are also frequently designed to build public structures on lands considered to be residential areas for Palestinians.
The Associated Press loosely calls Khalid’s situation an “odd plight”. But this is a reality that at least 80 Palestinians from East Jerusalem have experienced this year alone.
In fact, less than ten days earlier, Ziad Ameira was forced to demolish his own home in a nearby neighborhood also in East Jerusalem. Ameira, who had inherited the land from his late father, began to build the home fifteen years ago. Since then, he had received notifications and threats from Israeli municipal authorities ordering him to destroy the home.
Ameira was given a choice: demolish with his own hands the home he built with those very same hands or pay a fee for Israeli military bulldozers to do the job for him. He chose to tear down the walls himself. Now, he and his seven family members live temporarily in two small rooms in a relative’s home.