Photo: Creative Commons
The remains of the Palestinian village of Lifta are in danger of erasure if Israeli developers have their way.
Located on the slopes of Jerusalem, more than 2500 Palestinians used to reside in Lifta however during the war in 1948, they fled for their lives never to return. In the immediate years following the establishment of the state of Israel, over 200 buildings were destroyed in Lifta but 77 were left standing. At that time, authorities demolished around 600 Palestinian towns, villages and agricultural centres, according to Israeli organisation Zochrot which documents what happened during the Nakba. Therefore, Zochrot and others believe that the homes that remain in Lifta are of unique historical importance.
The homes are beautifully crafted from local Jerusalem stone, of the cubist style and represent some of the finest examples of Palestinian craftsmanship and architectural design. In 2018, the World Heritage Fund included Lifta on a list of 24 endangered heritage sites and at present it is being considered for official recognition by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Palestinian-British architect Antoine Raffoul has spent more than a decade campaigning to save Lifta. “The village’s natural spring is even mentioned in the Bible and a settlement existed in the area as early as the Iron Age. It has developed over thousands of years and deserves preservation. This is a cultural war we’re fighting.”
Its days may be numbered because in May, the Isael Land Administration announced that it planned to issue a tender for Lifta’s redevelopment that threatens these ancient homes to make way for a luxurious development of 250 villas, hotels and shops. Should that happen, evidence of this Palestinian community will be erased forever and any chance of return by descendants of the original inhabitants which has remained one of their dreams will die.
On the ground the Save Lifta Coalition was formed with both Palestinian and Jewish Israeli members, who also value the village and who have been fighting for years to preserve this site.
Internationals can help save Lifta by signing the petition to UNESCO here.. The link also includes a one-minute film that shows the beauty of Lifta.