Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Housing in East Jerusalem

Manufactured housing crisis: the political and social determinants of health

Since 1967, planning and zoning policies in Jerusalem have been racialised and used to advance political agendas, criminalise Palestinians’ right to decent housing and strip them off their right to the city. Thirty-five per cent of Palestinian land has been confiscated for settlement building, 22 per cent designated as green areas and public infrastructure, where building is not allowed, 30 per cent remain unplanned areas, and only 13 per cent is zoned for Palestinian construction, much of which is already built up. 

Treated as foreign immigrants in their own city where Entry into Israel Law applies, and threatened with automatic revocation of their residency rights if they fail to prove that Jerusalem is their centre of life, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are forced to live in compromised housing conditions. Their numbers grew from about 69,000 in 1967 when Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem to about 324,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, Israel has failed to meet their basic housing and infrastructure needs. 

The unmet rise in demand for housing, the racialised and unaffordable planning and zoning regulations, along with rendering the place of residency a prerequisite for retaining residency rights, meant that the available housing in East Jerusalem is unaffordable for the majority of Palestinian families, 79 per cent of whom live below the poverty line (2015). Many of those living in the Old City and its vicinity, for example, have been forced to live in severe overcrowding, inadequate dilapidated conditions, build with no construction permits, thus risking criminalisation and demolition of their homes, or move to neighbourhoods behind the wall. 

The series of photographs are of Palestinian families who experienced demolition/self demolition or settler eviction in East Jerusalem and the impact this has had on their physical and mental health. While they are appreciative of the healthcare system Israel offers them, they question the state’s planning and zoning policies and its politicisation. Stress, precarity, fragmentation and a sense of injustice are common feelings. Jerusalem for them is their home. They have no plans or intentions to leave it despite the hardship and compromised housing conditions.