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Urgent action by Amnesty international

15.05.2006
The Jerusalem Municipality is preparing to forcibly evict Muhammad Is’hac and Yousra Herbawi from the house where they live with their six children, one of whom is severely disabled, and then to demolish the building. The family have almost no income, and would be left destitute. The impact on the family's health, in particular that of the disabled son, is likely to be very severe. The Municipality can still decide to take into account the family’s circumstances and cancel the forced eviction and the demolition.
The couple's oldest son, 24-year-old Mansur, is completely paralyzed (quadriplegic), mentally handicapped, and suffers from frequent epileptic seizures. He is bedridden and is cared for at home by his parents, who are in poor health and are not working. Two other children (aged 19 and 21) are studying at university and the youngest three (aged 13, 14 and 17) are at school.
The family has fought a 15-year legal battle to save their home in the Abu Tour neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, in an area of the West Bank which Israel occupied in 1967 and subsequently annexed, in violation of international law. At the last hearing at the Jerusalem Municipal court, on 30 April, the Jerusalem Municipality requested that the house be demolished and that the family also pay a fine of 30,000 shekels (US$ 6,500). The court decision, expected on 7 June, is likely to authorize the demolition.
The family built their home in 1989 and the following year was ordered to pay a fine (which they did) and to either get a building permit or have their home demolished. Since the area did not have a building plan, the family spent significant sums of money to prepare and present building plans to the Municipality. However, when the Municipality finally issued a building plan for the area in 2004, several years after the house was built, the Herbawi family home did not meet the exact specifications (regarding the percentage of each plot of land on which there may be construction and the division of the land into separate plots) and the Municipality has issued an order for the demolition of the house.
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