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Affidavit No. 5020/2009

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, ‘Abdallah Hamad ‘Ali Khater, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 935162867, born on 10 July 1968, a worker and a resident of the area of Ras Khamis, ‘Anata town, Jerusalem Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I am a Palestinian citizen and the holder of a Palestinian (Jerusalem) ID card. In 1991, I got married to a Palestinian woman, who holds an Israeli ID card and was living in Jerusalem at the time. We have six children together: Walid, 17 years old; Wala’, 16 years old; Muhammad, 15 years old; Hamad, eight years old; Ahmad, five years old and Sara, who is three years old. All of my children hold Israeli ID cards. Several years ago, I applied for family unification, based on my wife’s Israeli ID.

When my son Hamad was born, he suffered a birth abnormality, which left him completely paralysed. This year, his health condition deteriorated. As for me, just like other workers, I suffer from scarce work opportunities because of the suffocating Wall that surrounds the West Bank. I obtain a permit to work inside Israel only on very rare occasions. Sometimes, I work in areas inside the West Bank. Whenever I get a permit, though, I work inside Israel.

Since I got married, I have resided in several different rented houses. Since 1996, the Israeli occupying authorities have imposed severe restrictions, compelling Palestinian Jerusalem – ID holders to reside in Jerusalem in order to maintain their health insurance and social security. Therefore, I was forced to reside within the borders of Jerusalem Municipality to ensure that my family and I would not loose our health insurance. I should note that Hamad’s medical treatment is very expensive. Had I lost my health insurance, Hamad would have lost the medical care that the occupying state is providing him based on his Israeli ID card.

Due to my financial situation, I was unable to afford a decent residence. The only thing I could afford was an apartment in Qalandiya refugee camp, which the occupying authorities have cut off and isolated from Jerusalem by means of the Separation Wall. There, I lived in a horrible and small flat measuring 35 square metres and built of concrete for ten years. My wife, children and I were stacked up over each other in this small flat. The rent was NIS 1,000 per month.

I was unable to bear these unhealthy conditions in our tiny and overcrowded home. Therefore, in 2009, I decided to move to a new and better home. The house was located near the refugee camp in an area called Ras Khamis, where there was intensive construction work going on. However, most buildings in that area were built without the required construction licences. While isolated behind the Wall, on the Palestinian facing side, these buildings were nonetheless considered to be within the borders of Jerusalem Municipality, which would enable me to maintain my health insurance.

I bought a flat from Mursi ‘Isa, who was building a three-storey building in the area. Each storey comprised two flats. I managed to secure two thirds of the flat’s price and agreed with the owner to pay the rest in instalments. As a result of my dire financial situation, my brothers and some other generous people helped me with the money for the flat, which allowed me to take on this adventure and buy the flat. As construction works were ongoing in the area, and since occupying authorities had not demolished any houses in that area except for those located in direct vicinity of the Wall or the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, I never expected that my apartment would ever face any demolition threats.

The Municipality of the occupying authorities did not pay any attention to this neighbourhood as it was located outside the route of the Wall. In addition, a military checkpoint controlled citizens’ movement to Jerusalem.

A person like me would not even think of purchasing a piece of land and building a house in Jerusalem, because of the very high prices of land there. Even if I had owned a piece of land in Jerusalem, I would not have been able to obtain a construction licence from the responsible Israeli authorities. Those licences are issued on very rare occasions and I cannot afford to pay the licence fees. Furthermore, a person who is in a similar situation to mine cannot afford to buy a licensed flat in Jerusalem, as the minimum price for such a flat is USD 200,000.

Accordingly, I had no other choice for securing a decent standard of living for my children except in the area of Ras Khamis. In April 2009, I moved into the flat despite the fact that its floor was not yet paved with tiles. I paved it myself while I was living in it. Several days after I had moved into the apartment, I was surprised when inspection staff from the Jerusalem Municipality accompanied by Israeli Border Guard officers raided my home.

During the raid, they took pictures of my apartment and then handed me a demolition order. It should be noted that while the apartment building was under construction, nobody ever raided it, nor was any demolition order issued at that time. Immediately after receiving the order, I went together with the owner of the building and other residents to the Jerusalem Department in the Palestinian Presidential Office in Ramallah. There, we were transferred to the office of Advocate Sami Irsheid. Our case was extensively covered in the media.

Therefore, the Municipality of the occupying authorities suspended the demolition decision and transferred the case to the Municipal Court, which will adjudicate upon this issue on 3 September 2009. These days, I am very anxious about the judge’s decision, fearing that he will approve the demolition decision. During this whole situation, my son Hamad’s health condition deteriorated greatly. He died on 23 June 2009.

The occupying authorities have put me in a very difficult situation: had I moved to live inside the territory of the Palestinian National Authority I would have lost the benefits I enjoyed from the Israeli authorities, particularly the health insurance. Rent in the Palestinian territory is much cheaper and homes there are more prestigious than those in the area of Jerusalem.

Had I stayed in an area within the borders of Jerusalem Municipality, my children and I would have had to live in an uncomfortable and crowded small home. When I decided to live in an acceptable and appropriate home, the Jerusalem Municipality has punished me with the demolition order.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 5020/2009
  • Field researcher: Manaf Abbas
  • Affidavit Date: 18 August 2009
  • Name: ‘Abdallah Hamad ‘Ali Khater
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