House Demolitions
Demolition in Jerusalem

St. Yves defended the Mukhtar of a Jerusalem neighborhood, who was accused of illegal construction of a cistern which was built to relieve the village from sewage water floating the streets.

Um Laisoon is a Palestinian village, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel following the occupation of the West bank in 1967, incorporating the village into the expanded boundaries of the Israeli Jerusalem municipality jurisdiction.

Although Israel is responsible for the municipal services also in East Jerusalem, it often neglects its duties, out of discriminatory policies. Thus big parts of the aforementioned neighborhood are not connected to the Jerusalem sewage system and have been relying on disposing of the sewage water in a cistern hole. After the hole was filled, the neighborhood began to suffer from the over spilling of the sewage water into the streets thus causing serious health threat to the inhabitants.

As a result, the residents of the neighborhood approached the municipality, asking those in charge to solve the sewage problem. The matter was referred by the Municipality to the Jerusalem water and sewage company (Gihon)-a semipublic company working under the Jerusalem municipalit . In July 2005 Gihon notified the residents of the neighborhood that its representatives visited the site and are dealing with the problem.

Six month later, The Jerusalem municipality sent a written warning to S.- a public figure in the neighborhood asking him to remove the sewage from the streets in order to prevent the health hazards that they might cause. In June 2006, when the village was already suffering one year from the sewage problem, Gihon finally issued a written approval that the residents can build a new cistern since the area is not connected to the sewage system of Jerusalem.

In the meanwhile, one of the residents of the neighborhood donated a piece of land that he privately owns to the public good in order to build a new cistern on it relying on the approval received from Gihon.

In July 2007 S. was indicted by the Jerusalem Municipality with digging a hole which is 192 square meters big of different depths, of building a supporting wall of 40 centimeters thick around the hole, and of covering the hole with concrete. S was also charged by doing all the mentioned digging and building without obtaining a building permit from the Municipality in contradiction to section 145(a) and 204(a) of the planning and building law 1965.

After a preliminary hearing was held at the Municipal court in Jerusalem, where S. attended unrepresented, S. approached the Society of St. Yves seeking its help in this matter.

In the following hearing, where St. Yves represented S., the Society lawyers argued that S. is not in any case related to the alleged act, neither by any relationship to the land where the cistern was built, nor to the alleged acts building. As for the act of using an illegal building – the realty is that this cannot be proved.

Saint Yves attorneys also argued that the cistern was built after obtaining a permit from Hagihon. Another argument was according to the penal defense of” necessity” The cistern was built out of necessity due to the lack of a sewage system in the neighborhood. The spilling of sewage water on to the streets of the neighborhood was causing a health hazard to the inhabitants of the area in particular and to the greater population at large and had to be stopped urgently.

Further St. Yves plead that the Jurisdiction as per section 11 of the local authority law (sewage) obliges the local authority to demolish in such a manner which does not cause a public hazard or any danger to the health of the public. Therefore the indictment and / or demolition order are illegal since they contradict the purpose of the law.

Finally demolishing the cistern is contrary to the Environmental Protection Act in effect, and therefore the court should dismiss the indictment until such time as a proper solution is found to the problem.

Finally, the court decided to acquit S. from the all the charges brought against him, affirming the majority of the defendants arguments.

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