Palestinian Khaled Zir sits with his children inside a cave in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan on Aug. 27, 2013. Zir said the family moved into a cave after their home was demolished by Israeli authorities.
For much of the past seven years, Khalid Zir and his family called a makeshift tin shack in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan home. But now that Israeli authorities have demolished the hut, Zir has become even more desperate.
With no other housing options, Zir, his wife and five children have gathered their belongings and moved into a cave that used to serve as the family’s stable.
"My house was demolished, and I was obliged to live here because I did not have any place to go to," said Zir, a 39-year-old maintenance worker. "I wanted to rent a house but there are no houses here for rent, because there are no licenses for us Arabs to build."
Over the past decade, 448 homes of Arabs in east Jerusalem have been demolished, leaving 1,752 people homeless, according to data provided by the B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group. This year alone, 30 homes have been knocked down, leaving 80 homeless.
In the meantime, the Zir family is trying to make the best of a tough situation. They have moved some furniture, a refrigerator and a television into the cave and installed lighting. Zir walks over to his father’s nearby home to shower.
But he says he has no plans of backing down.
"We are staying here," he said. "We are patient, we are going to stay here even in a cave, under the sun, the snow and the rain, we will stay here."
[Credit : Sebastian Scheiner/AP]