On the morning of Wednesday, March 30, the residents of the Palestinian village of al-Walaja received a bit of good news: the Israeli Supreme Court extended by six months an injunction on demolitions of 38 homes in the village. The Supreme Court indicated that it granted this extension to allow residents time to prepare a zoning plan for al-Walaja.
Al-Walaja is a Palestinian village located right on the Green Line on the outskirts of the Jerusalem Municipality. The residents had originally lived within the Green Line but fled in 1948. Since the occupation of the West Bank began, residents have largely been unable to build legally. Moreover, vast swaths of al-Walaja’s land have been confiscated by neighboring Israeli settlements and the entire village is slated to be turned into a national park for the enjoyment of settlers.
Building permits are nearly impossible to obtain without a zoning plan, and as both zoning plans and permits are almost always denied, Palestinians are forced to build without permits. The military has demolished over forty homes built without permits. The Supreme Court’s decision this week gives al-Walaja residents relief from demolitions and provides hope that the community will receive approval for its zoning plan — which NIF grantee Ir Amim has been advocating for and reporting on for years — allowing them to build much-needed housing.
A group of organizations including NIF grantees and partners Ir Amim, Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together), Zazim — Community Action, and Peace Now have been advocating for an end to the demolitions and for the zoning plan. Together with other activists and organizations, they staged a protest outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Haggai Matar