A four year-old boy of the family who had left his home for school like any other Jerusalem child was deeply traumatized when he returned home and couldn’t find his home, which was suddenly gone. His whole world became disoriented and he fell into a hysteria of panic and crying.
THE ISRAELI COMMITTEE AGAINST HOUSE DEMOLITIONS (ICAHD)
ACTION: Saturday, November 13. Rebuilding the home of three Beit Hanina families demolished two weeks ago.
BACKGROUND: On October 25th — just two weeks ago — the Ministry of Interior demolished a home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina that housed three families, 20 people. A four year-old boy of the family who had left his home for school like any other Jerusalem child was deeply traumatized when he returned home and couldn’t find his home, which was suddenly gone. His whole world became disoriented and he fell into a hysteria of panic and crying. Now sleeping in a tent, he still wakes up at night in a panic and still has crying attacks.
There is no explanation for this demolition other than repression and kohaniut. It was carried out despite a “covenant” that had been negotiated between the municipality and the Beit Hanina neighborhood administration, which was acceptable to the Ministry of Interior as well. It was done not to families who had somehow violated the covenant, but to people who had been living in their house for almost ten years. On Saturday we will join with the families to rebuild their home.
Despite the important efforts made by architects, politicians, officials, lawyers and human rights activists to curtail demolitions by the municipality and the Ministry of the Interior and to formulate rational and equitable master plans for Palestinian areas of the city, one hard fact remains at the heart of the demolition issue: Demolitions are political acts that conform to Israel’s policy of limiting Palestinian building to tiny and isolated enclaves while expropriating their land for massive Israeli satellite cities. Planning policies, legal measures and administrative procedures are only facades to hide this essentially political reality, and the house-demolitions policy operates hand-in-glove with the “Quiet Transfer” and closure.
We support all efforts to address the problem of Palestinian residency rights with the municipal and government authorities. ICAHD has met with Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and with high officials in Jerusalem Minister Haim Ramon’s office. We have seen letters sent by Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Yossi Sarid and Ran Cohen expressing their “repulsion” at the demolition policy. We received assurances that houses would not be demolished as long as the Interministrial Committee set up by Ramon, Beilin, Ben-Ami and Sharansky reviewed demolition policies. In the end, however, efforts to end this barbaric policy will succeed only if there is constant public pressure, protest and resistance. We must do just what Sharansky told the Jerusalem Post he fears: turn each house demolition into an international event. If we cannot persuade our political leaders to adopt policies based on human rights, equality and peace, at least we can make the political price of demolishing so high they will eventually desist.
We have learned from reliable sources that a “wave” of demolitions is being planned for Issawiyeh in the coming week. Besides having virtually all its lands expropriated for the French Hill neighborhood, the Hebrew University expansion, the army base and the highway to Ma’aleh Adumim, Issawaiyeh has had some 45 houses demolished since 1967, with another 45 on the “waiting list.” A day after the house was demolished in Beit Hanina, the Nasser family house in Issawiyeh, home to 23 people, mostly children, was also demolished. In the almost total absence of professionalism, good will and humanity on the part of the municipal and governmental bodies, our building activities on the ground serve as a key deterrent to demolition on a massive scale.
The struggle for a just and viable peace – including co-existence in dignity among the peoples of Jerusalem – continues.
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