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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 hold the Palestinian ID card. In 1991, I married a woman from Jerusalem, who is a Palestinian national, but holds the Israeli ID card. Over the period of my marriage, I had six children: Walid (17-years-old), Wala’ (16-years-old), Muhammad (15-years-old), Hamad (deceased at eight-years-old), Ahmad (five-years-old), and Sarah (three-years-old). All of my children hold Israeli ID cards. Years ago, because my wife holds an Israeli ID card, I applied for family reunification, but was refused.

My son Hamad suffered from a birth abnormality, which left him in complete paralysis. This year, his health deteriorated further.

Like other workers, I suffer from chronic unemployment. The suffocating Wall that surrounds the West Bank restricts work opportunities. I am able to obtain a permit to work inside Israel on very rare occasions, because I am a construction worker. Sometimes, I work in areas in the West Bank. When I get a permit, I work inside Israel.

Over the period of my marriage, my family and I have resided in several houses that I used to rent. Since 1996, the Israeli occupying authorities have imposed severe restrictions on Palestinians who hold Israeli IDs. In order to maintain their health insurance and social security rights, they are compelled to reside in Jerusalem (otherwise, they will lose their Israeli ID cards). Therefore, my family and I had to reside in areas located within borders of the Jerusalem Municipality so that we could keep my family’s health insurance.

I should note that Hamad’s medical treatment is very expensive. If my family lost their health insurance, Hamad would lose the medical care that the occupying state provides to him due to his Israeli ID card. In light of my financial situation, I could not find a place of residence except in Qalandiyya refugee camp, which the occupying authorities have isolated behind the Separation Wall. There, I lived in a miserable flat, built of concrete, for ten years. It only measured 35 square metres and was not in good condition. My family and I were crowded together, living on top of each other in the flat. The rent was 1,000 NIS per month.

We were unable to bear that small and run-down house. In 2009, we decided to move to a new house in much better condition. It was located near the refugee camp in an area called Ras Khamis. There was an intensive construction activity in this area. However, most buildings were built without the required construction licences. Still, these buildings were considered to be within the borders of the Jerusalem municipality, which ensured that my family would maintain their health insurance.

I bought a flat from Mursi ‘Isa, who was constructing a three-storey building. Each storey comprised of two flats. I managed to secure two thirds of the price of the flat and agreed with the owner to pay the rest in instalments. In view of my financial situation, my brothers and some generous people helped me with the price of the flat. I took on this adventure and bought the flat.

As construction works were going on in the area, I was not afraid that my flat would ever be demolished. The occupying authorities had not demolished any houses in that area except for those located near the Wall or the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev. The municipality of the occupying authorities did not pay attention to buildings in this area, as it is located outside the Wall. In addition, a military checkpoint controlling citizens’ movement to Jerusalem is also located in the area.

A person like me cannot think of purchasing a piece of land and building a house on it. The price of land in Jerusalem is very expensive. Even if I had owned a piece of land in Jerusalem, I would not have been able to obtain a construction licence. Those licences are issued on very scarce occasions and I cannot afford to pay the licence fees. Furthermore, a person who is in a similar situation to me cannot afford to buy a licensed flat in Jerusalem, as the minimum price of one is USD 200,000. Accordingly, I could not find a place to secure 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 it was not paved with floor tiles. I paved it while I was residing in it.

Several days after I had moved to the flat, I was surprised by a visit from the inspection staff of the Jerusalem municipality, who were accompanied by Israeli border guard officers. They raided my house, took photographs of it, and handed me a demolition order. It should be noted that not one person had raided the building while it was being constructed. We had not received any orders of demolition. Immediately then, I, along with the owner and other residents, went to the Jerusalem Department in the Palestinian Presidential Office in the city of Ramallah to report our concern, as the Israeli occupation authorities had delivered 55 demolition orders for apartments in the area of Ras Khamis.

We were referred to Advocate Sami Irsheid’s Law Office. 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 it on 3 September 2009.

These days, I am very anxious about the judge’s decision, fearing that he will approve the demolition decision. Over this period, my son Hamad’s health deteriorated greatly. He died on 23 June 2009.

The Israeli occupying authorities have put me between the hammer and the anvil: if we had moved to live inside the territory of the Palestinian National Authority my family would have lost the benefits they enjoyed, particularly our health insurance. However, rental costs in the Palestinian territory are cheaper, and the properties are more prestigious than those in the area of Jerusalem. If we remain in an area within the borders of the Jerusalem municipality, my family and I would have to live in an uncomfortably small and run-down house. When I decided to live in an acceptable and decent house, the Jerusalem municipality has chased me with the demolition decision.

Affidavit Details

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