As published in various media outlets at the end of October, Jerusalem municipal authorities plan to demolish four buildings (not five or six, as reported in some outlets) in Kafr Aqab, on a street adjacent to the separation barrier (which in this area takes the form of a huge wall). Kafr Aqab, it should be recalled, is a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem that has been separated from Jerusalem by the barrier, meaning that these demolitions would take place on the West Bank side of the wall. It is also a neighborhood in which the Jerusalem Municipality is almost wholly absent when it comes to the provision of services or attending to the needs of residents, who remain legal residents of Jerusalem. As Danny Seidemann quipped on Twitter about the announcement, “Demolitions are virtually the only ‘service’ the Jerusalem Municipality provides there. In Barkat’s Jslm: ‘I demolish, therefore I am’.”
The demolitions are an initiative of the Jerusalem Municipality, which plans to pave a road for public transportation to the Qalandia checkpoint – a huge checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank that resembles an international border crossing. While the demolitions have been approved at the jurisdictional level, the Jerusalem District court has ordered the municipality to refrain from carrying them out until it provides specific responses to an appeal made by Kafr Aqab residents, who fear that the demolition (by means of explosives) will endanger adjacent buildings. All of the buildings slated for demolition were built without permits, reflecting both the fact that it is extremely difficult for Palestinians in Jerusalem – even in areas from which Israel has effectively withdrawn almost any presence – to get building permits, and the fact that Kafr Aqab – effectively abandoned by the Jerusalem Municipality but, since it is still technically Jerusalem, formally off-limits to the Palestinian Authority – has become a largely orphaned, lawless area.