Al-Bustan Association Silwan first started as a voluntary youth initiative established in 2012 by a group of friends as an expansion of Al-Bustan tent, under the slogan “ONE DAY, WE WILL BE WHAT WE ASPIRE TO BE”. It sprang out of the needs to address the immediate threat of demolition and eviction orders for the entire neighborhood “88 families”, the systematic and repetitive arrest against children, and the lack of infrastructure services and facilities such as playgrounds, parks, as well as the deteriorating economic situation. This initiative grew and more youth joined, therefore, the group renovated a room under the tent, which became the sanctuary and safe place for different segments of the community.
Our Strategic Objectives
Lead and contribute to the establishment of a young generation leaders to take a conscious avant-garde role in community development.
Our youth need your guidance now more than ever! At BAS, we encourage and unleash talents of women, children and youth.
At BAS, we empower the youth through volunteerism, and raise volunteerism spirit through different voluntary activities.
Empower women by creating opportunities to practice their talents and develop their skills.
We offer an alternative protection programs for women, children and youth suffered and/ or under the threat of arrest and/or settler violence and/ or displacement and domestic danger through psychological and social support groups, fun days, camps, sport, educational field trips, scouts, dabakah and music.
Our Mission & Vision
Provide safe environment for children, youth and families to be aware, empowered and active towards (for) their rights and duties
Steadfastness is a way of life towards freedom
Background on Silwan
Silwan is a Palestinian Neighborhood, located on 5,640 dunams with approximately 55,000 residents in occupied East Jerusalem, just below the southern wall of the Old City, next to the Al- Aqsa Mosque. Silwan is home to a natural spring and has been home to a long line of various civilizations, who built the underground system to divert water. Since 1967, Silwan has been targeted by the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the settler movement.
Palestinian residents of Silwan have fallen victim to the accelerated efforts by the Israeli governments to confiscate Palestinian land and demolish Palestinian homes in order to gain full Jewish control of the area. This is part of the Municipal plan to Judaize Jerusalem and to displace the indigenous Palestinian population.
The private settler organization, El Ad, established in 1986, has been largely responsible for Jewish settlement in this area, managing the ‘City of David’ park construction, and taking control of archaeological excavations that started soon after the occupation of Jerusalem.
The Israeli government seeks to justify home demolitions through historical and religious claims to the land, which has led to the emergence of the Israeli-defined ‘Holy Basin’ area around the Old City.
Since 1967, all Israeli governments have keenly pursued policies and enacted laws to transform the city’s Arab character and ‘Judaize’ East Jerusalem to create a new geopolitical reality that guarantees Israeli territorial, demographic, and religious control over the entire city as the ‘eternal and undivided’ capital of the Jewish state.
Since the late 1970s, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality has designated the neighbourhood a “green area” (Plan A/M/9), prohibiting residential construction. No measures were taken; however, it was used as a tool to prevent Palestinian residents from building homes for their families.
Former Mayor Lupolianski led an initiative to declared Al-Bustan as a “national park” or “archaeological garden”. Such a declaration would prohibit residential building and no longer compensate the residents for their property. Palestinian owners and tenants would “only” be banned from using their property. The plan was rejected by the residents of Al-Bustan.
Since then, demolition orders have been issued targeting Palestinian in homes including homes built before the Israeli occupation in1967, and homes built five or more years prior to the issuance of the demolition order.
In 2005, Al-Bustan residents proposed a plan that would change the status of the area from “green land” to “residential”, in order to prevent the demolition of homes. This plan was rejected in 2009 by the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee.
In 2010, Al-Bustan Community, with the help of an urban planner and the support of the Al-Quds Foundation for Development, prepared a new alternative plan that would develop the neighbourhood without demolishing homes. The plan provides several square kilometers of gardens and planted areas, including rooftop gardens and public parks where historical artefacts are displayed and protected, as per guidelines laid out by Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality. A central element in the plan are the rehabilitation of the natural spring and the historic Ottoman building once used for water redistribution, housing for the Palestinian residents – and zero evictions. The plan was submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli National Planning Committee.
Israel’s Mayor of Jerusalem ignored Al-Bustan’s proposal. He informed that he had developed a new and different plan, without providing details.
In early 2014, the Al-Bustan community and its lawyers were informed by the Municipality that they should prepare a new (update) version of their 2010 alternative plan, because planning rules and criteria have meanwhile been changed.