Palestinian Khalid Al Zeer sits with his children inside a cave in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Al Zeer said the family moved into a cave after their home was demolished by Israeli authorities. Image Credit: AP

Ramallah: A Palestinian man has been ordered to suspend all restoration work in the cave to which he and family had moved after the Israeli military bulldozers razed his house in the Silwan neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

The order was made against Khalid Al Zeer by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Al Zeer has vowed to carry on the work in his cave no matter what the cost in order to provide his family with a place to live.

The court adjourned Al Zeer’s case to October 20 for further review.

The Israeli occupation’s police visited Al Zeer at his makeshift home in the cave in the middle of the night on Monday to hand him an order instructing him to immediately suspend all renovation in the cave and move out. He was also instructed to show up in court on Tuesday at midday to hear the orders directly from the judge.

Israeli bulldozers demolished Al Zeer’s house at the end of August because he did not seek a building license from the occupation authorities. Later the occupation’s municipality in Jerusalem claimed that the land on which Al Zeer’s house was constructed would be used as a “Torah park”, and then decided that it would become a “public park”.

Once the house was razed, Al Zeer, his wife and five children moved to a 20 metre squared cave on his land.

“I will not pay any attention to their instructions. I will go ahead with my renovation to provide my children with the most basic thing — a place to live in,” said Al Zeer in an interview with Gulf News.

“This is my responsibility towards my wife and children and I will resolutely stand up for it.”

Al Zeer said that the work he is doing in the cave is not renovation. “It is all about cleaning the cave and putting a steel or wood door now that winter is coming,” he said, adding that heavy sand and some rocks have fallen from the cave’s ceiling to the ground. “The Israeli authorities have left me with no options. I am left with a wife and five kids — the eldest is nine years and the youngest is five months — who could be on the street,” he said.

“If I lose the cave, I will install a tent I have already bought in the middle of the main street and cut the traffic flow and we will live there,” he said.

“Whenever we are moved by force, we will return back to the middle of the street,” he said. “I have a problem and need a place for myself and family.”

Al Zeer said that the land on which the house the Israelis razed was constructed was his grandfather’s and that the ownership was officially moved to his brothers and himself.

Al Zeer has lodged a complaint against the municipality’s destruction of his house without a court order.

“The issue of my house being built without a building license was reviewed by the court when the Israeli bulldozers arrived at my house and demolished it,” he said.

He added that the military machines arrived two hours before the official departments open, thereby preventing him from lodging an urgent complaint. “The moment the official departments started their daily work, the bulldozers were done with the demolition of my house, my brother’s and our barn,” he said.