Adalah and the Jisr Az-Zarqa Local Council demand that the marketing of housing units in Jisr Az-Zarqa be altered to serve the needs of its residents

Approximately 80% of residential housing units allocated in the new neighborhood in Jisr Az-Zarqa, a poverty-stricken Arab town in the north of Israel, are not earmarked for local residents. This densely-populated, coastal town, neighbors the rich, Jewish Israeli city of Caesarea, prime real estate.

On  7 March 2022, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter on behalf of the Jisr Az-Zarqa local council to the Minister of Housing and Construction, Ze'ev Elkin, and the Director of the Israel Land Authority (ILA), Yaakov Quint, demanding that they change the marketing and bidding process of new housing units planned in the village.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter


Jisr Az-Zarqa is an Arab town located between Tel Aviv and Haifa, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the poorest towns in Israel, falling at the bottom of the socio-economic rankings, and is one of the most densely-populated. Jisr Az-Zarka also suffers from a severe housing crisis, following decades of neglect by the state. In stark contrast, it neighbors one of the richest Jewish Israeli towns in Israel, Caeserea.


During the last two years, and for the first time, the ILA has been marketing bids for the construction of housing units in the village. According to emerging data, 200 housing units have been marketed out of the 500 planned units, with 134 marketed through a governmental bidding plan at reduced prices. Of the 134 units, local Palestinian Arab residents, citizens of Israel, won only 36 housing units through the bids. According to the Jisr Az-Zarqa local council, the number of winners among the local residents, who will actually realize their win is expected to be even lower, given the difficult economic situation of the towns’ residents.


The letter, sent by Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany, details the severe housing crisis in the town. According to the town’s master plan, which was approved by the ILA, the number of planned housing units fails to even accommodate the natural population growth expected in the town. Official figures indicate that the population of the village is expected to be about 20,000 in 2030, and as such, there will be a shortage of about 2,500 housing units. Further, the town has a very limited land area, and the various obstacles placed by the Israeli authorities over the years, such as roads and nature reserves, will prevent its expansion in the foreseeable future.


To address the severe housing shortage faced by the residents, the Jisr Az-Zarqa local council demands that the method of marketing of the bids be altered so that it will, first and foremost, provide a solution for the residents. In addition, the council requests that the marketing of the bids will be done gradually, and in a manner appropriate to the residents’ needs, with an emphasis on affordability. In the letter, Adalah and the local council further request that the Housing Ministry purchase housing units and allocate them for public housing for the towns’ eligible residents.


Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany commented:


“The case of Jisr Az-Zarqa illustrates the severe housing crises faced by overcrowded, densely-populated Arab towns and villages in Israel. After years, whereby no plans were prepared and housing units were marketed in the village, only a few residents have benefited from the limited number of housing units that have been offered recently in Jisr al-Zarqa. This situation necessitates the adoption of various measures suitable for Jisr al-Zarqa, and Arab villages in general, in order to address the housing shortage of the residents and to provide affordable housing solutions, including public housing."


Sheikh Murad Amash, head of the Jisr az-Zarka Local Council, added:


"The state of Israel cannot continue to ignore the basic needs of the residents of Jisr Az-Zarqa, which has been suffering from severe problems in all areas since the establishment of the state. The plans addressed in our letter are intended, first and foremost, to solve the housing shortage in the village. However, in reality, the remaining land available for residents will be allocated to those who do not reside in the village. This is done in the poorest village in the country, while ignoring the plight of the residents. The plans must be adapted to the residents’ needs before the damage becomes irreversible."



Related press releases:

Israel plans to build dozens of new homes in Arab village facing severe housing shortage – and offer them to non-residents 5 March 2017