Israel to demolish home of 95-year-old disabled Palestinian woman in Negev

Israel to demolish home of 95-year-old disabled Palestinian woman in Negev
2 min read
23 February, 2022
Israel is set to demolish the home of a 95-year-old elderly Palestinian woman in the Negev desert after her makeshift house was being restructured to help it become wheelchair-friendly.
The Bedouin community in the Negev desert is unrecognised by Israel [Getty]

A 95-year-old disabled Palestinian woman living in a village not recognised by Israel has been handed a demolition order after trying to make her home wheelchair-friendly.

Jasia Al-Azazma lived in her old home in Wadi Al-Na'am, in the Negev desert, until her health condition worsened, leading family members to temporarily demolish the building and rebuild it so it can be accessed by wheelchair.

Al-Azazma was temporarily living with her daughter while the shack was being rebuilt, until a demolition order was sent to her home last week, according to Haaretz.

Her son-in-law, Yusef Al-Ziadin, said the old building was built during the 1990s.

"A shack like this can't last more than 20 years, and it had holes everywhere; all the rain was pouring on her," he said. "It was falling apart and we couldn't leave it like this."

She was unable to be wheeled out of bed and into the bathroom due to the door frames being too narrow.

Despite the many obstacles to Al-Azazma's quality of life, Israel's Enforcement Unit deemed the improvement of the shack a "new construction" and ordered it demolished.

"Our mentality is that we don't take elderly people to nursing homes," Al-Ziadin urged. "So when my wife's mother stopped being independent, she came to live near us."

He added that she was meant to return to her home when it was finished being built, but now the demolition order has been processed she has nowhere to go.

"You can't leave someone in bed or in one place all the time; it's despairing. A person also needs to go outside and see the world."

Israel's National Unit for Enforcing Planning and Construction Laws, according to Haaretz on Wednesday, said it was informed that Jasia Al-Azazma's case was a humanitarian one and will decide on whether to execute the order once they receive documentation providing this.

In 2017, the cabinet approved an enforcement plan for Palestinian Bedouin constructions that were deemed illegal to make space for new buildings.

Activists and human rights groups have described the order as ethnic cleansing.

Israel has routinely dispossessed Palestinian Bedouins, who often face expulsion and home demolition.