Sufian Taha (he is wearing a white shirt) is showing the EAs the rubble of their family home in Beit Hanina (on the far side next to the red wall) and the stables of his three Arabian horses (on the right, opposite what remains of their house).
Since the Oslo Accords, many areas in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank have no mater plan for development. Building is severely restricted and no allowances are made for the natural growth in Palestinian communities.
(See http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1991to_now_oslo_accords.php for the details.)
Building permits are almost impossible to obtain so many Palestinian people build without a permit. Because Palestine is under Occupation, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is in control and enforces the law. The IDF issues ‘stop work’ and ‘demolition’ orders to those who have erected any kind of structure without a permit. In some cases, demolition orders were issued twenty years ago and still nothing has happened to their structure. For many others the process has been very short. JLAC (Jerusalem Legal Aid Centre) and their partners work around the clock to assist Palestinian people with legal advice and interventions to minimise the trauma of a house demolition. Notices are issued in Hebrew and the majority of Palestinian people do not read or understand Hebrew. JLAC and their partners try to educate Palestinian people to seek legal advice immediately in order to avoid extensive fines and to submit an appeal against the demolition order, with which they have been issued.
Most often, all the lawyers are able to do is to buy some time. Eventually the structure, which was built without a permit, will be demolished. Sometimes ‘illegal’ property is confiscated by the Israeli Government and given to a Jewish Settler. This is happening more and more in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Palestinian neighbourhoods, like Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in East Jerusalem. The strategy of the Jerusalem Municipality, according to Dr Meir Margalit (a leftist Municipal Councillor), is that they want to ensure that a Jewish majority is created in every constituency of Jerusalem, before a true democracy comes about.