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During the 80s, the residents started to realize that their status as non-citizens was problematic. The municipality did not invest in the development of East Jerusalem, in the improvement of the education system, or in the municipal planning of East Jerusalem. Silwan was neglected. Most of the young residents had to take low-paying jobs. The once pastoral village sunk into poverty and neglect. Concerning construction, since 1967, not a single building plan has been approved in Wadi Hilwah. This means that the residents cannot build or expand their homes. As families grew, the residents were compelled to build without permits. Hundreds of families found themselves in an impossible situation. In addition to poverty, a deficient education system and poor physical infrastructure, the state also turned the residents into criminals who had to pay hundreds of thousands of Shekels in fines, and issued demolition orders to many homes.

A recently demolished house in Silwan

In the 80s, the young residents’ frustration, fear and resentment caused by the state of Israel translated into their participation in the first Intifada, in which Silwan became known for its strong involvement. This marked the end of the age of innocence.

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