Adalah Obtains Stay of Demolition Order Against Single Mother's Home


On 13 March 2003, Adalah submitted a motion to the Haifa Magistrate Court seeking to stay a demolition order against an addition to a house belonging to a single mother, a Palestinian citizen of Israel. The Court issued a six-month stay of the demolition order, and suggested that the woman begin the procedure of obtaining the necessary permits for her house, located near Jatt (an Arab village in the central part of Israel).

The decades old house is located on a piece of land that is currently zoned as agricultural. The woman obtained the property from her ex-husband in a divorce settlement, and she lives in the house with her young child, who she supports by working as a cleaner. Two weeks ago, her mother informed her that individuals had been photographing the house, presumably representatives of the Haifa District Committee for Building and Planning (hereafter "the Committee").

Through friends, the woman discovered that the Committee intends to demolish an addition to the house, pursuant to a 1998 judicial demolition order issued against it in the name of her ex-husband. At that time, the woman's ex-husband was indicted for violations of the National Planning and Building Law (1965), in connection with the addition he had made to the house. The addition includes a kitchen and bathroom; previously, the house lacked these facilities. Without the addition, the home also had no doors and no windows. Although the woman was aware of the indictment, she did know about the outstanding demolition order.

The demolition order required that her ex-husband demolish the addition to the house within one year. It stipulated that if he did not do so within 15 months, the addition would be demolished by the Committee at a time of its choosing, at his expense.

In the motion, Adalah Staff Attorney Suhad Bishara asked the Court to provide a remedy consistent with the "interests of justice." Based on numerous extenuating personal circumstances, Adalah argued that it would be unjust to demolish the family's home. Further, Adalah contended in the motion that demolishing the family's house would violate their basic right to housing, which must be protected by interpretations of the right to dignity as contained in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992).