Israel threatens to demolish King’s Garden neighbourhood, adjacent to Al-Aqsa

A member of the Silwan Land Defense Committee, Fakhri Abu Diab, revealed the intention of the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem to demolish the entire King’s Garden neighborhood again, after it canceled all the agreements signed with the neighborhood's residents, rejected the engineering plans, and froze the demolition orders.

Abu Diab told Safa agency on Wednesday that the Israeli municipality informed the committee and the neighborhood’s lawyer that it canceled all agreements with the King’s Garden neighborhood and rejected the engineering plans it had requested from the residents as an alternative to demolition.

The Israeli court refused to grant an extension to freeze the demolition orders, which is distributed to the residents of the neighborhood recently. Thus, the municipality will demolish all homes to prepare for the establishment of a “Biblical national park”.

The neighborhood residents had previously submitted all the engineering plans to the Israeli municipality and had fulfilled the necessary conditions to stop the demolition process, and every time the orders were frozen, “but today we were surprised by the municipality’s disavowal of all agreements and its intention to carry out the demolition.” said Abu Diab.

"As a result of this decision and the Israeli municipality’s insistence to implement its plan, the neighborhood’s homes have become without legal cover," he added.

The King’s Garden neighborhood is located 300 meters from the southern wall of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and it extends over an area of 70 dunums. Israel claims that it represents a "historical-cultural legacy of the Jewish people," so it worked on Judaizing its name and turning it into the "Garden of King David."

The story of the neighborhood goes back to the year 2005 when the Israeli municipality issued a decision to entirely demolish it and began distributing demolition orders to its 1,550 residents, under the pretext of building without a permit, even though its lands are privately owned by Palestinians and an Islamic Waqf.

After the Israeli municipality rejected the engineering plans and disavowed the agreements, residents fear that their 100 homes will be demolished at any moment, so they will be displaced.

Over the years, structural plans for some parts of Silwan were approved, but they did not provide a necessary area for the expansion of the neighborhood and did not increase the building rights in it. Also, with the increasing overcrowding in the town, its residents began building without a permit until today they are facing the risk of displacement and deportation.

“The neighborhood's homes are in danger and are threatened with demolition at any time and there are severe fears that thousands of Jerusalemites will be displaced,” Abu Diab added.

Women and children constitute 65% of the King’s Garden neighborhood. It worth noting that some homes were built before 1948, while others were built before 1967.

Abu Diab considered that this step constitutes a dangerous precedent in the history of Jerusalem and the beginning of mass demolition and deportation of entire neighborhoods, aiming for emptying the city of its original residents.

The Israeli municipality is challenging international law, the international community, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and even the US administration, and wants to keep the first line of defense away from Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Jerusalem city has become on a hot tin as a result of the escalation of the Israeli violations and attacks on Jerusalemites, including demolitions and forced displacement of residents, to establish settlement and Judaization projects,” Abu Diab confirmed.

Ascending steps

On the next steps to stop the demolition, Abu Diab said: “During the past years we took many protest steps, popular and legal movements, and international pressure, and we were able to freeze the demolition orders, and today we will work to escalate these protests”.

He added, "We will strengthen our presence and steadfastness in the sit-in tent that residents set up to confront the demolition plan and we will call the human rights and international institutions to protect our homes."

"If the neighborhood is demolished, this will have great repercussions and risks for the Jerusalemites, as other neighborhoods will follow, to attack Al-Aqsa Mosque" Abu Diab continued.

Abu Diab appealed to the international community, human rights institutions, and diplomats to move urgently and put pressure on the Israeli municipality to stop the demolition of homes in the King’s Garden neighborhood and the expel of residents.

Source : Safa