Monday, March 9, 2009

You don't have a house any more.

One Palestinian family's encounter with Israel's bulldozers in East Jerusalem

The bulldozer came for the Abbasi family house just before 10am on Monday, grinding up the steep, narrow hill in the district of Silwan, in East Jerusalem. Dozens of policemen and security forces surrounded the house and then banged on the metal front door.

"They pushed me and shoved me. I was terrified," said Ghadir al-Abbasi, who was in the house with the three youngest of her six children. "I told them, 'This is the only place we have, where else are we going to live?' They shouted back to me: 'Silence. You don't have a house any more.'"

She persuaded them to let her collect her identity card, then the police removed some of the family's furniture, including a red sofa which was dumped in the street. Moments later the bulldozer demolished the single-storey, breeze-block house. Now Ghadir and her husband Mahmoud, a labourer, live with their children in a tent pitched next to the rubble.

Since 2004 around 400 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem. Israeli authorities say the demolitions are the result of a strict legal process because so much Palestinian construction in the east of the city is done without a permit. The municipality said this week that it was only following the law and that enforcement of its planning policies was "completely equal between East and west Jerusalem".

But is difficult for Palestinians to obtain permits and strict zoning laws leave little space in East Jerusalem for Palestinians to build – even though Jewish settlements in the east continue to expand.

Mahmoud al-Abbasi, 40, admitted he had no permit for his house, which he finished building a year and a half ago at a cost of £30,000 on land inherited from his grandfather.

He applied for a permit but was refused, and applied again after the house was built. Most of his neighbours have also built without permits. Some are forced to pay fines, others are ignored; all hope they will never face demolition.

"The Israelis don't want the Arabs here in this area," said Abbasi. "That's why they are removing us. They are destroying us, putting pressure on us to leave this country. But we will never leave. This is our land, our home."

Jeff Halper, an anthropologist and director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said the combined effect of settlement growth and house demolitions in East Jerusalem was to extend Israel's "matrix of control" and to fragment the Palestinian population in the city.

"It has two effects. One is to Judaise the entire city, in other words to eliminate the idea that there is an East Jerusalem, to create one unified, Jewish Jerusalem. Israel sees this as one urban area," he said. "The second is to isolate this Jewish Jerusalem from the rest of Palestinian society around so that it doesn't become a political centre for the Palestinians."

Source article is here.

P.S. If Jews must have apartheid in Palestine, why are they and why do they expect to be integrated here? Oh, that's right. They aren't really integrated here. They're lords here and we are their background and atmosphere. Afterall, we are the goyim.

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