Yesterday a House was Demolished in a Village called Kafer Al-Deek
A visitor from Abahlali, the Durban shack-dwellers’ movement, witnesses a house demolition in Palestine, and makes connections
Palestine – It’s Tuesday morning on the 4th of October 2011. The sun is bright and everyone in the village of Kafer Al-Deek is busy in the fields. October is the time for the olive harvest. Most of the families who still have olive groves use this time to be together and to help each other with the harvest before the winter starts at the end of November or the beginning of December. Most families wake up early every day to go to the fields and come back late at night. Some of them have houses on the farms that they sleep in during this time. Some of them use these houses to prepare food and to rest while they work in the farm.
There are 5 500 families in Kafer Al-Deek. This village is in Palestine.
The Israeli government supplies this village with water. Everywhere in this world oppression turns the things that are natural into something that has to be supplied to the people. Water used to run freely in the rivers and people could decide together how to use it. Now each family receives 32 litres of water a day. They are not allowed to dig their own wells. When you are an oppressed person the government will decide how much water you need every day. It’s the same everywhere. The indignity and frustration of it is the same.
But when you are an oppressed person you do not only have to live with the oppression of ordinary days. Any day can become a disaster for you. You never know when you wake up if you will suffer your ordinary sufferings or if it will be a disaster. On this Tuesday morning the farmers here were, like all the other farmers, busy with the olive harvest. At 10:30 a.m the Israeli civil authority came to demolish the agricultural houses with a bulldozer.
The owner of the first agricultural house is Mohammed Afif Ali Ahmed, aged 32 years, married without any children. Two years ago the settlers came to tell him to stop building the house. His land, which is 200 doloms, is next to the settlement.
When you are an oppressed person any one of the oppressors can speak to you like they are the police. Mohammed Afif Ali Ahmed ignored them because that is what oppressed people have to do do when ever they can. Last year the civil administration came to give him a demolishing order. When you are an oppressed person the courts will confirm your oppression. Many Palestinians have been given demolishing orders by the courts. But they don’t know when the demolishing will happen. They can’t prepare. They just live with that worry. When the army feels like now they need to come and demolish, then they come even if it’s been a year or two years. They will just come and give the Palestinian 15 minutes to take out their belongings in the house then they demolish it. As a result all those families that have received demolishing orders they feel very nervous when they see the army or a bulldozer. They are always worried that maybe they are coming to demolish their home. Mohammed Afif Ali Ahmed’s house is in area C. Area C is full of Israel settlements. Here people really worry a lot. All that was left after the demolition was just the padlock. Mohammed describes this padlock as his ‘Nakba’.
The second agricultural house that was demolished yesterday by the same army unit belonged to Ashaf Kasim Hussein Handa, aged 35 years. He works as a carpenter. His house was 15m2 and he owns 25 doloms of land. He spent 10,000 NIS (National Israel Sheikel) to build his house.
It had a well that they used to irrigate the plants as it was summer and very hot. The olive trees need a lot of water in order to be of good quality. He was hurt by the army in his arm as he was resisting the demolishing. When you are an oppressed person the police or the soldiers will hurt you if you resist when they destroy your home. It is the same everywhere. According to Ashaf this well has been there for seven years. While building the well and the agricultural house the settler’s private security came to tell him to stop building. When you are an oppressed person private security will harass you on behalf of the oppressors. This is the same everywhere. According to the law a verbal order is illegal, so Ashaf ignored them and continued to build on his land. Since then he never got any written order. But yesterday when they came to demolish they claimed that they had given him the demolishing order in writing. Oppression always lies. The oppressed are always taken as liars. It is the same everywhere.
The well was funded by a European solidarity organization, through the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee. The mayor of Kafer Al-Deek said that he will compile a report on the demolishing and send it to Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, so that they will forward it to the European organisation that funded the building off the well. According to the mayor, “The Israelis demolished the agricultural houses to punish Palestinians. There is no justification for the demolishing because these houses don’t affect them.” The mayor thinks that this behaviour of the Israeli soldiers and settlers will not encourage ordinary Palestinians to continue with the peace talks. He concluded by saying that, “the responsibility lies with the European organization that funded the project of the well to condemn the Israel behaviour towards Palestinians. This behaviour is not the first and we are sure it is not the last.”
When you are an oppressed person you know very well that outrages against yourself, your family, your home, your livelihood will continue. You know that humiliation follows humiliation, that disaster follows disaster. You know that you just don’t count to oppression. You know that you have to resist and to be in solidarity with all resistance. You may not have the courage to take this knowing seriously but you know it. Without resistance and without solidarity the police, the private security, the soldiers and the bulldozers will follow you until you die and then they will follow your children too. That is why from Mexico to South Africa the first slogan of the oppressed when they begin to organise resistance is usually “Enough!”
In Kafer Al-Deek this should just be harvest time – a happy time, a free time.
In Abahlali baseMjondolo we know oppression when we see it. We know the dignity of resistance when we see it. In Palestine a whole country is being turned into a kind of transit camp. From Palestine, to Haiti to South Africa we have to resist. The dignity of every human beings has to be respected.
There is no reason why we can’t all live freely and safely. There is no reason why we must accept the police and the private security and the soldiers and the bulldozers and the courts that turn some people into oppressors and others into the oppressed.
Mazet, an Umhlali in Palestine.
Mazet can be reached on 059 844 9617 and is willing to give comment on what she is witnessing in Palestine.