24/01/05

No to the demolitions in Halisa

   

The residents of Halisa will not become refugees in their own city again!

Last week, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha dozens of policemen arrived at Raziel 4 Street in the neighborhood of Halisa in Haifa, with the intent of carrying out a demolition order by the municipality of Haifa and destroy the balconies and supporting columns of a three-story building. This planned demolition is the tip of an iceberg of a demolition and evacuation plan threatening all the neighborhoods’ residents.

The balconies on Raziel 4 were rebuilt after the municipality sued the residents claiming that the old balconies were hazardous. The supporting columns of the building were built because of an imminent danger to the stability of the entire building. In demanding that the residents destroy these “additions”, the municipality’s officials were not ashamed to threaten that during the demolition they would damage the building and sue its residents for the cost of the demolition and for these damages. This brutal demolition plan is endangering a building in which ten families live.

The residents of the building on 4 Raziel St. have filed a request to the local planning and building committee to approve the building, but this request was rejected based upon a “building plan” for Halisa, which states that the roads would be widened by demolishing rooms, yards, and balconies in all streets of the neighborhood. The residents of the neighborhood fiercely oppose this destructive plan which is without precedent in Haifa. The municipality’s insistence on performing the demolitions contradicts all the promises made about a change of approach towards Halisa, and places all the houses in the neighborhood in danger.

In November, following widespread public protest against the demolition plan, the mayor of Haifa made an explicit promise to delegates of the Arab public in Haifa that no demolitions would be performed in Halisa until agreement about the neighborhood building plan would be reached. But then another element intervened: following shady and suspicious business deals real estate sharks are trying to take hold of land in Halisa, evacuate dozens of families and leave them homeless. Following the request of these “entrepreneurs”, the municipality of Haifa is now breaching the explicit agreement it had with the representatives of the Arab public, and volunteering to begin the demolitions on 4 Raziel, as part of the evacuation and demolition plan.

Most residents of Halisa are refugees who lost all their property when their villages were destroyed in 1948. What is less well-known to the Haifa public is that most residents of Halisa were made refugees for a second time in 1967, when the municipality of Haifa completely demolished the shack neighborhood in the “Shemen” industrial area. The residents, who were also forced to pay for the demolitions, went to live in caves and destroyed homes in Wadi Rushmia. We shall not agree that in 2005 residents of Halisa will become refuges for the third time!

The neighborhood committees of the Arab neighborhoods in Haifa, together with all Arab political parties and social organizations, and with the public bodies working to promote the joint life of Jews and Arabs, are organizing for a widespread public struggle to prevent the demolitions.

We call on all residents of Haifa and the area, Arabs and Jews, to join us at the protest tent to be erected on 4 Raziel St. beginning Teusday, January 25.

Please help strengthen our demand by sending a fax (preferably) or an email to the Mayor of Haifa, Mr. Yonah Yahav.

Fax 04-8356020

To Email in Hebrew: go to – www.haifa.muni.il/Hebrew/ContactUsForm.htm

Email in English: Secretary@haifa.muni.il

Say Yes to the right of the Arab residents of Haifa to live safely in their homes!

Emergency Public Committee against the demolitions in Halisa