Threat from settlers, government – get out of our way or we will destroy you
Palestinian homes demolished – what can you do
ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions)
Israeli authorities demolished Beit Arabiya – ICAHD Peace Centre on Monday night, January 23rd for the fifth time, along with the Abu Omar home rebuilt by ICAHD in the summer of 2011, and structures in the East Anata Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin compound. A total of seven homes were demolished, with 52 people including 29 children displaced.
Beit Arabiya, Located in the West Bank town of Anata (Area C) just to the northeast of Jerusalem, is a living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice and peace. Beit Arabiya is a home belonging to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim and their seven children, a Palestinian family whose home has been demolished four times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by ICAHD’s Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, before being demolished again Monday night. Israeli authorities also demolished the home of the Abu Omar family, rebuilt by ICAHD in July 2011. “This seems like a concerted, yet futile, effort to discourage ICAHD from rebuilding demolished Palestinian homes” said ICAHD Director Jeff Halper. Only earlier this month, ICAHD extended an invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit Beit Arabiya during her country visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory scheduled for later in the month. “It is our hope, that while we cannot extend the same hospitality to the Special Raportueor, Prof. Raquel Rolnik will visit the ruins of Beit Arabiya, and report on the utter cruelty, and illegality of Israeli policies and practices, and that members of the international community will follow in her footsteps” said ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain.
What Can You Do?
ICAHD is determined to rebuild Beit Arabiya as well as ensure the housing needs of the Abu Omar family and the Abu Musa Bedouin clan. The attack on the families and on their cooperation with ICAHD was a major one: seven homes and animal pens crucial for the livelihood of the Bedouins demolished, all with a blunt message: We, the Israeli Forces, will move decisively and with unmitigated violence against any hint of joint resistance to Occupation on the part of Palestinians and Israelis.
At this hour, we need your solidarity and material support. ICAHD rebuilds homes, together with Palestinians, as political acts of resistance. Our important work, however, can only be done with the help of people of conscience the world over. Donations, which are dedicated completely to rebuilding, can be sent through our secure on-line Paypal account via the button below. Please support our work with the Palestinian people.
Government and settlers send their message of destruction
Activists resisting Palestinian home demolitions
By Jeff Halper
It has become commonplace among violent West Bank settlers to randomly attack Palestinian mosques, homes, olive orchards and individuals in order to send a message to other Israelis. They are called “Price Tag” attacks, after the “signature” the settlers leave scrawled on the walls of the burnt-out buildings. In the dark of night this past Monday, January 23, the IDF carried out its own Price Tag assault on ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
At 11:30 p.m. on that cold, rainy night, I got a panicky phone call from Salim Shawamreh, a Palestinian man from the West Bank town of Anata whose home has been demolished by the Israeli authorities four times and rebuilt as an act of resistance each time by ICAHD. “Army bulldozers are approaching my home,” he cried. “Now they’re beginning to demolish it!”
As has become routine, I alerted our activists, plus journalists and foreign diplomats, and we rushed out to Anata. We knew we could not save the homes, but we could resist; stand in solidarity with the families, soaked, with their belongings, in the rain; document what was happening and broadcast this latest war crime to the world. It was another of those thousands of attacks on Palestinians that occur daily but never reach the newspapers – probably because there are so many and they are so routine by now that they are not, in fact, “news.”
By the time we reached Salim’s house – which we rebuilt in 2003 and have called Beit Arabiya ever since, the “house of Arabiya,” home to Salim’s wife and mother of their seven children – it was gone. Salim himself was afraid to go down the hill to see it because of the soldiers, but I ran down. Even in the dark and rain I could see the ruins of the home, and the family’s belongings that had been thrown out. But I couldn’t tarry. The bulldozers had moved up the hill and were in the process of demolishing a Jahalin Bedouin enclave there – part of the Jahalin tribe that was being removed and relocated on top of the Jerusalem garbage dump near Abu Dis.
Our activists were already there, scuffling with the army and trying to reach the bulldozer to hamper its destruction. The soldiers, claiming that this was a “closed military area” but unable to produce any proper military order, attacked the activists physically and verbally. Itay Epshtain, ICAHD’s Co-Director, was hit with a gun and thrown to the ground. All the while, the soldiers cursed at “the anarchists and leftists.” One yelled at Rabbi Arik Aschermann from Rabbis For Human Rights to take of his skullcap because “he was a disgrace to Judaism.” But it was the women who received the most violent verbal abuse, in addition to physical. “May the Arabs here rape you!” one soldier yelled at an activist.
In the end, Beit Arabiya, six Jahalin homes and most of their animal pens were demolished before the army left. The bulldozer, protected by dozens of troops, belonged to a commercial contractor who was paid well for the demolitions by the Civil Administration, Israel’s military government in the West Bank that uses the word “civil” to downplay its military connections, and to make it appear that demolitions of “illegal” Palestinian homes are simply part of “proper administration.”
After staying with the families and promising to rebuild, we finally left to send out press releases; put out information on our website and social media; and begin mobilizing activists abroad and, through them, governments and UN bodies. Only when we returned early in the morning did we learn that yet another house had been demolished: that of the Abu Omar family, a family of 17 people who lived in a home that had been demolished last year, which ICAHD had rebuilt in our 2011 summer rebuilding camp. We had thought the bulldozer and soldiers had left for the Border Police base on the hill opposite Beit Arabiya and the Jahalin, but in fact they had only gone around Anata.
At 3:30 a.m. they pounced on the Abu Omar family, forced them out of their home, removed their belongings and demolished it. The family was so dazed by the sudden violence, terror, confusion and need to protect the terrified children that they hadn’t even thought of phoning us.
The IDF attack on three sites that for years have been identified with ICAHD’s resistance activities was clearly an official, government-sponsored, violent Price Tag assault on Palestinians in order to “send a message” to ICAHD. Out of the tens of thousands of demolition orders outstanding in the Occupied Territory, they chose these three. In fact, the “message” had already been delivered.
Already at the second demolition of Beit Arabiya in 1999, Micha Yakhin, the Civil Administration official responsible for overseeing the demolitions in that part of the West Bank, told me: “We will demolish every home you rebuild.” ICAHD has rebuilt 185 demolished Palestinian homes in the past 15 years, all as acts of political resistance – not humanitarian gestures – all funded by donations. We will rebuild the homes demolished Monday night as well. The coming together of Palestinian families and community members, Israeli activists and international peace-makers to rebuild homes is one of the most significant forms of resistance, solidarity and mobilization. But Israel demolished 200 homes last year alone in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, of more than 26,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territory since 1967. Resistance cannot keep pace with the massive Price Tag assault that is the Israeli Occupation.
Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
Alternative Information Center
In the morning of January 25, the Israeli army demolished two houses in the Bedouin village of Umm Al Kheer and seized a tractor in the village of Khallet el Mayya.
Around 9:00 AM on Wednesday morning two bulldozers, escorted by military jeeps and the DCO (District Coordinating Office) of the Israeli army, raided the village of Umm Al Kheer. The two demolished houses weren’t under demolition order, although 20 demolition orders were delivered in the last years. The first structure belongs to an elderly couple, and the second to a woman with 9 children.
During the operations the Palestinians, who have tried to hinder the activities interposing between the houses and bulldozers, were pushed away by soldiers. The elderly owner of a house fell ill after being pulled by soldiers. Everything happened while two bulldozers worked to build new habitations in the nearby settlement of Karmel.
After finishing the demolition, the Israeli army went to the Palestinian village of Khallet el Mayya to seize a tractor with trailer used by Palestinian workers to build a house which, last week, received a stop working order from the DCO. During the operation the villagers interposed themselves between the tractor and the DCO. A Palestinian was lying under the trailer to avoid the seize of the vehicle and risked injury and arrest. The DCO dropped the trailer and just took away the tractor.
Umm Al Kheer is a Bedouin village in C Area (under Israeli civil and military administration) built in 1948. It’s located close to the Israeli settlement of Karmel established during the beginning of the ’80s and expanded in the recent years. The village routinely experiences harassment from Israeli settlers and military.
The policy pursued by Israel in C Area is to prevent the development of Palestinian communities, denying any building permit and demolishing any structure considered “illegal”. At the same time, Israeli settlements and outposts in the area, although they are illegal under international law, continue to grow and the settlers can attack Palestinians with impunity.
This policy of restrictions, closure, demolition, evacuation and abuse, combined with continuing violence by settlers in the area, denies the human rights of Palestinians, hindering the possibility to live in their villages and cultivate their lands by preventing development of local communities.
Villagers: Israel to demolish 17 structures in al-Aqaba
TUBAS — Israeli forces on Thursday handed out 17 demolition orders to residents of al-Aqaba village in the Jordan Valley, residents told Ma’an.
Only a day earlier, Israeli forces had handed out 12 demolition orders in the Tubas village, the local mayor said.
The local popular committee says the village has been harassed by the Israeli army since 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank.
Around 50 villagers have been killed or injured. Al-Aqaba has faced closures and been cut off to neighboring cities and towns by checkpoints and in 1999 Israel destroyed the village’s water supply, phone and electricity networks. Two main roads leading to the village were destroyed last year as well as homes, barns and greenhouses in the area.
The destruction of services and Israel’s confiscation of village land have displaced around 700 residents, the committee says.
Al-Aqaba village is surrounded by Israeli military training bases and lies eight kilometers from the illegal Israeli settlement Maskiyot. Israel announced plans to expand Maskiyot in 2006.
Israeli authorities usually demolish homes, wells, barns and infrastructure built without an Israeli permit in Area C — the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says Israel only grants Palestinians permission to build in 1 percent of Area C, in places which are already built-up.
“More than 94 percent of all Palestinian permit applications have been rejected in recent years,” UNRWA says.
Meanwhile, Jewish-only settlements continue to expand in the West Bank, and villages neighboring settlements are often the targets of demolition orders.