JISR AZZARQA – Escorted by heavily armed police equipped with assault rifles and bulletproof vests, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority demolished a shack belonging to Sami al-Ali, a local fisherman in the Palestinian Arab village of Jisr AzZarqa – one of the poorest localities in Israel – this morning (Monday).
After the demolition was over, the demolition team and police forces abandoned the site, leaving the local fisherman and owner of the building to clean up the wreckage. Furthermore, the Nature and Parks Authority billed the owner of the building the costs of demolition. Equally outrageous, the fact that the owner was not notified of the imminent demolition.
According to Jafar Farah, Head of the Mossawa Center, “the local municipality received the management of the local fishing village from the Israel Lands Administration in 2010. However, it [the Israel Lands Administration] is yet to complete the establishment of the fishing village and issue permits for the structures that have already existed prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. Moreover, in recent years, the authority has begun issuing demolition and work stoppage orders for the local fishermen.” Jisr az-Zarqa is the flagship development project of the Mossawa Center, which has been working with the people of the village and local council for years.
Farah added, “despite the fact that the Nature and Parks Authority received NIS 18 million for the development of the fishing village, it has not fulfilled its duties in developing the area. The local fishermen had to go to court to prevent the demolition of these buildings. The building that was demolished this morning was in legal proceedings for a year."
The inhumanity witnessed in the demolition of this building in the fishing village at Jisr AzZarqa is not an isolated incident and will not be the last of its kind. This demolition is a direct result of the Kaminitz Law (the April 2017 Amendment to the Planning and Building Law – 1965), which criminalizes building violations and intensifies enforcement of the law through increased home demolitions, larger fines, and heavier sentences for offenders. Due to the Israeli government’s deliberate unwillingness to approve master plans for Palestinian Arab localities and distribute building permits, many Palestinian Arab citizens have been left with no option other than to build and inhabit structures that are not officially recognized (i.e. without a permit). As a result, the Kaminitz Law deliberately affects Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel disproportionately.