BEIT HANINA, JERUSALEM – Israeli and international volunteers occupied the one-room house of Muhammed Shabani in order to prevent its demolition by the municipality of Jerusalem accompanied by over forty Israeli police. The volunteers were asked to leave, but several ICAHD staff members and volunteers refused and were dragged out of the house by force. A Caterpillar construction crane then demolished the house in three minutes.
Muhammed Shabani, his wife, his eight children and his grandmother lived in this house for a year and half before demolition. The last order was delivered on November 24, 2004, citing a lack of permit because the family’s land is zoned “open green space” by the city master plan. The family spent an estimated $15,000 in court fees until the High Court issued a ruling supporting the demolition.
The volunteers were members of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the International Solidarity Movement as well as other Israelis and internationals.
After the demolition, Ari King, a representative of the National Unity political party, arrived to verify the house was demolished. The National Unity party states in their platform that Arabs should be expelled and transferred in favor of Jewish settlements. The party seeks to expand the settlement of Pizgat Ze’ev, just 200 meters over the hill from the Shabani family, and actively pressures the Jerusalem Municipality to demolish houses in areas of interest.
Timeline of Shabani Demolition
Timeline –Shabani Family
December 1, 2004
Beit Hanina, Jersualem
7:00 am ICAHD staff and volunteers arrive at the Shabani house.
7:20 am A construction crane is sighted demolishing the top four stories of a six-story house in Beit Hanina.
8:00 am Media reporters arrive.
8:30 am A police jeep arrives at the Shabani house, presumably to deliver the demolition order. The police ask who the volunteers are and depart.
8:56 am A half-dozen police jeeps and a jackhammer-equipped Caterpillar construction crane surround the Shabani house. The ICAHD volunteers wait inside the house while others climb onto the roof.
9:12 am The commanding officer enters the house with soldiers to deliver the official demolition order to Muhammed Shabani. Everyone is given 10 minutes to leave. The Shabani family leaves the house.
9:27 am Soldiers order the volunteers to exit the house.
9:53 am Several dozen soldiers enter the house and climb the roof to physically remove the volunteers. They carry the volunteers 50 meters from the house and leave them under guard.
10:06 am Foreign laborers employed by the demolition subcontractor remove the family’s possessions from the house.
10:15 am The Caterpillar crane begins destroying the four pillars of the house.
10:18 am The walls crumble and the roof collapsed. The Caterpillar pulverizes the remaining pieces to make it unsalvageable.
10:35 am Ari King, a representative of the National Unity political party serving settler interests in expelling the Palestinian population from this hill, arrives to verify the house has been demolished.
11:24 am ICAHD volunteers depart the family after collecting money in order to help the family rent an apartment during their first night without a house.