The Jerusalem municipality destroyed a building in east Jerusalem on Tuesday that served as a residence for handicapped children. The center, in the Wadi Joz neighborhood in the city’s north, was destroyed after the District Court declared it illegal.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said seven children and two caregivers were asleep at 5:30 A.M. when police and Border Police arrived and instructed the caregivers to evacuate the children. According to ICAHD, the police refused to call the center’s director to contact the parents and to evacuate the children, but started to do so themselves. After two children were removed by police, the director and the caregivers removed the rest, out of concern that the children would be harmed.
The Jerusalem police said they did not remove any children from the building. “Moreover, at the request of the people at the site, we allowed them to conduct their prayers undisturbed although we knew that the moment we delayed the demolition, we were taking a chance that disorderly conduct would occur.”
The Ayat association for special-needs children, which runs the center together with the Kochvei Yerushalayim association, holds two-week recreational sessions for children there and runs an afternoon club. Special education schools in Wadi Joz use the center’s services on a regular basis, and children whose families have difficulty caring for them at night slept there.
Abed al-Rahman of Kochvei Yerushalayim said, “This is a very nice center that provided activities for disabled children and young people. The activities in the building were held in recent months. Now we have nowhere to operate. A place has to be found urgently so the families won’t have a hard time.”