From July 15th to July 28th, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) will host its sixth annual summer work camp in Anata. This year, we will rebuild the home of the Elayyan family, which was demolished by the Israeli authorities oin April 21, 2004.
For daily reports of the camp, see www.icahd.org
The Elayyan Family and Home
Nadir Elayyan is a gentle 37-year old man from Anata. We met his young family outside his brother’s home, where they have been living for the past four years. Wearing a checkered shirt, dark trousers, and a look of hopeful determination, Nadir introduced us to his three- year old daughter, Biseesan, his one-year old son Mohammad, and his pregnant thirty two-year old wife, Fidaai.
The origin of the Elayyan family is similar to that of most other families in Anata. The land has belonged to their family for generations, with the deeds filled-out in Nadir’s grandfather’s name dating back to the British Mandate.
In 2003, the Elayyan family began building their home without a permit, like most people are forced to do in the Palestinian areas of Jerusalem. Requests for permits for Palestinians to build on their own land are almost uniformly rejected and immensely expensive.
The construction was going well and it appeared that the young family was on its way to creating a beautiful home; yet with the second floor nearing completion, the family received a demolition order from the Jerusalem municipality on April 15, 2004. Knowing that their home could be demolished at any moment, the Elayyan family now lived in a state of constant insecurity. For the time being, Nadir stopped construction on his new house.
Four weeks later, Nadir received a phone call in the morning from a neighbour saying that the bulldozer was outside his home. Frantically rushing to the scene, the demolition had already begun by the time Nadir had arrived. When he asked the commanding officer why his home was being targeted, he was told that it was because he did not have a building permit. Recounting that moment and the absurd restrictions faced by Palestinians in Jerusalem, Nadir tells us “but not one person in my neighborhood had a permit!”
The demolition of their home left the Elayyan family in serious debt and without a house of their own. The family now lives in cramped accommodation with Nadir’s brother and his family of five. As of now, Nadir’s brother does not have a demolition order on his house, but with 1,081 demolition orders issued last year in East Jerusalem alone, no security is ever assured.
This year ICAHD will be standing in solidarity with the Elayyan family and helping them rebuild their home during our 2008 Summer Rebuilding Camp. We will bring together Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals to resist Israel’s policy of house demolitions and support the Elayyan family as they try to put their life back together.