Jerusalem Municipality Confiscates Homeless Families’ Belongings

Tent Encampment in Sacher Park. Picture: Yael Vaknin

Over the summer, five families without a place to live set up tents in Sacher Park in Jerusalem. These are families with young children whose parents’ salaries are insufficient to cover monthly rent or mortgage repayments. On August 19, two days after the tent camp was set up, city inspectors dismantles the tents and confiscated all of the equipment – including tents, mattresses and toys.



ACRI urgently contacted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat demanding that the municipality return all of the confiscated equipment and allow them to remain in the Sacher Park until appropriate housing solutions are found for them.


Tali Almi, Coordinator of ACRI’s Jerusalem Public Hotline, pointed out in the correspondence that the Attorney General has determined that the confiscation of personal items from the homeless is justified only if its presence causes substantial harm to the public space it occupies. Additionally extra care must be taken not to damage their belongings. The Attorney General’s position was expressed in a petition currently before the Supreme Court and it received support in principle from the Justices.


According to Almi, in the case of the families who set up tents in Sacher Park, it is inconceivable to claim that the tent structures could have caused any substantial harm to the public use of the space. “These are people who are forced to sleep on the streets due to financial hardship and the bylaws of the municipality must take into account their right to live with dignity in the public sphere. In general, personal belongings necessary for day to day survival, such as blankets, mattresses and tents to protect against the elements – are not confiscated. Confiscation of belongings can be carried out only in circumstances where its presence significantly inhibits the general public from making use of the public space.”


The Jerusalem municipality should be working to find solutions for the families who were forced to establish the encampment from a position of economic hardship. Evacuating them from the public space they inhabit should be a last resort adopted only after exhausting all other options of resolving the crisis. Other options include involving welfare authorities, working with the Ministry of Housing and Construction and collaborating with the families directly to help find a housing solution for them.


Additional Materials

ACRI petition currently before the Supreme Court on homeless rights to exist in public spaces.

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Categories: Housing Rights, Social and Economic Rights, Tent Protest, Welfare

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