Al-Jazeera Net correspondents
Occupied JerusalemHis smile never disappears despite the noise in the industrial area, and the loud sound emanating from turning machines and welding car parts that are busy receiving and delivering some of them inside his garage in the Wadi Al-Joz neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Car grease smears his clothes, hands, and face, whose features express the extent of his misery in this profession that he learned in the fifties of the last century, and he still practices it to this day, despite the diminution of its star due to the tendency of customers to buy ready-made car parts rather than maintenance of old, broken ones.
Al-Maqdisi, Grace Muraiba, was born in 1935 in Lifta, which was expelled in 1948, although his family hails from the city of Lydda (north). In this village, he lived his childhood, and he mentions that he used to go to the National Orthodox School in Jerusalem by bus in the morning and on foot at noon towards Lifta again.
He described the first decade of his life as calm, but since he reached the age of 13, the winds of dispersion and displacement began to blow him and his family, who were displaced from Lifta in the spring of 1948, to settle in the city of Lydda, and to be expelled from it months later.
From Lod to Ramallah, Jordan, and there the family lived in the Zarqa and Karama camps before deciding to return to Jerusalem again.
Jries and his family settled in the town of Anata, north of Jerusalem, and decided in the early fifties to learn the profession of turning iron to cut cars. After 10 years of working in a garage, he decided to secede and rent his own garage in the Wadi al-Jouz industrial area, which he opened in 1963.
Antique garage and traditional business
He moves between the machines in his garage and talks about them with deep knowledge, saying, “This is the first machine I bought for turning, and it was made in Bulgaria in 1962, then I gradually bought a Spanish lathe, a Romanian welding machine, a German one, and 3 American machines.”
All the machines that Jries works on are antique or semi-antique, and he says that the age of the machine is not what matters, but rather the one who works on it, indicating that the professionalism of the owner of the profession is the basis for perfecting the work and not the modernity of the machines.
This citizen refuses to buy new machines that greatly facilitate his work and the work of his son Nicola, just as he refuses to uproot him from his garage to replace him with the “Silicon Valley”, which is a technological project that the occupation municipality in the Holy City intends to implement in Wadi Al-Jouz on the ruins of the industrial zone.
Grace comments on the danger of eviction and the owners of other professions from this vital area, saying, “It is difficult to move to any other place because the garages complete each other, and the owners of vehicles used to park their cars, and we work each in his field to deliver them ready after maintenance, and therefore we cannot be distracted with the aim of building an old project.” Everyone is against him.”
The occupation municipality in Jerusalem intends to implement two huge projects on the ruins of about 180 facilities for Jerusalemites in the industrial zone in Wadi al-Jouz. The first will be an extension of the “East Jerusalem City Center” project, and the other will be the “Silicon Valley”.
Mayor Moshe Lion and his staff are promoting the “Silicon Valley” project, and several sessions have been held with landowners in the industrial zone as the largest high-tech “high-tech” project in Jerusalem, which will be built on an area of 200,000 square meters, to create high-tech operating spaces for 10 Thousands of graduates and specialized academics from Jerusalemites.
uproot and replace
The area of land on which the “Silicon Valley” project is supposed to be built is about 30 dunums. As for the land that the municipality intends to annex to the “East Jerusalem City Center” project, it has an area of 5 dunums. Below them are commercial interests that completely ignore the current use of the place.
The crackdown on garage owners in this area began 3 years ago, when the municipality distributed dozens of eviction orders titled “Stop Exceptional Use”, considering that the owners of “garages” have been using the shops exceptionally and in violation for decades.
Then the occupation municipality took a new arbitrary measure against them in early 2022, when it notified them to demolish their shops under the pretext of building them without a permit. Despite the submission of objections, the District Committee for Planning and Building met a few days ago after refusing to comply with the wishes of the affected Jerusalemites, and it is on its way to approving this huge Judaizing project.