This morning Israel demolished more Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
By Mira Rizek – National General Secretary, YWCA of Palestine
Dear all, please read this and share with your colleagues and friends.
This morning, our family woke up to screaming voices at 4:00 a.m., and we started looking around and wondering what was happening, but we could not see anything. So we went up to the roof of the house (our house is 3 stories), and we saw tens of Israeli army, special troops, border police, ambulances, fire department cars, police cars, surrounding Abu Eisheh’s house, who is our neighbor, ordering the family to leave the house because they wanted to demolish it. For almost two hours, the families who live there refused to leave, and soon they were pulled out by force, and some were beaten and had to be taken to the hospital.
For the last few months, this case of Abu Eisheh has been in courts, and the family have taken the case to supreme court few weeks ago, but of course, as expected, lost the case. The Israeli government decided to demolish the house because it is “illegally” built. This is not the first Palestinian house to be demolished in East Jerusalem, and for sure won’t be the last. Hundreds of houses have been demolished. The claim is that they are built “illegally” when Israel continues to deny issuance of building permits to East Jerusalem Palestinian residents.
Most houses where settlements have been built, have been the target for demolishing. As you all know, the YWCA is also neighboring the Shim’on Essidiq tomb, claimed to be a very important Israeli site. The Israeli Government is now planning to build a settlement near the tomb, which will be 201 units, to fit around 1,000 Israeli settlers, evacuating 20 East Jerusalem Palestinian families that presently live in and around that area. The YWCA building is facing this area, and could be eventually at risk, or could end up facing the Israeli settlement if kept “alive”, and probably we will have to go through a thorough security system to be able to enter our premise.
Where on earth can this kind of thing happen? For those of us who forgot that East Jerusalem is occupied, I have tidings for you…..we will continue to suffer all this until the Occupation is over. But I also hope that there still will be Palestinians in East Jerusalem to celebrate the day when the Occupation is over. Until then we will continue watching the expropriation of houses, land, resources and rights and just document and report on these stories, because we as Palestinians and the rest of the World have proven that we can do nothing about this. Sadly, we don’t even have a shepherd to guard East Jerusalem.
Until when will it continue, to be the case, that no one can stop Israel from violating international law on a daily basis? The International Court in the Hague confirmed that the building of what is called the “Separation Wall” is illegal, yet Israel is continuing with this Wall, and instituting a whole system of entrance permits. We even stopped talking about it, and pass though it every day. This is our new reality.
Abu Eisheh’s apartment building is 4 floors, and there are 8 families living there (4 of the apartments are rented/sold to other families). All of them were evacuated by force this morning, and stood out in the street watching their own house being demolished in their own eyes. One of the residents in one of the apartments is even traveling abroad, so when they return, they will figure out the new living mode on the street. All the furniture, personal belongings, memories and valuables of all the residents are in there, and soon will be buried under the rabble of stones.
This has been our story since 1948, and it looks this will continue to be our story until Israel and the rest of the world realizes that there can be no peace with house demolishing, with making people homeless, with land confiscations. As Palestinians living in Jerusalem, we continue to be “residents” and not citizens, and Israel has the right to terminate our residency right using different mechanisms, which they have been doing since 1967.
Lately, Ms. Mona Nasir, who is the daughter of Abla Nasir, the previous General Secretary of the YWCA, whom you all know well, has lost her Israeli Identity card (residency right) as she was crossing the bridge coming home to attend her brother’s wedding. Her child who was born in the States has been awarded a one month visa only, and Mona had to appeal 4 times to renew his visa so she can stay to attend her brother’s wedding. Mona herself was told that after she leaves Jerusalem this time, she will be allowed to return only as a tourist. Imagine, someone who is born in a country has no right to return to it. The justification being that now that she resides in the U.S. (because she married a Palestinian there) and since the U.S. is her center of life, 90% of the Israelis who are now living in Israel have emigrated to Israel after 1948 (establishment of the State of Israel) and most come either from Europe or the States or the rest of the world, and now these emigrants have more rights than the Palestinians who have been living in this land for hundreds of years. They can choose where to live, they are offered building permits, they have full citizen rights.
The press and UN observers came to the neighboring houses, and the roof tops were filled with people taking pictures, filming and watching. At 9:00 a.m., the army came to all our neighbors, and our street and closed it off, and ordered all people on roof tops (including us) to leave threatening to shoot . Later, Palestinian politicians and representatives of the PNA and Islamic Awqaf came, and the army came rushing ordering them to leave. They closed off part o the main road (which links Jerusalem to Ramallah), and prohibited the press from covering the story. One of Abu Eisheh’s sons was standing on the roof of our neighbor’s house, taking pictures of what he knew very well will become the “used to be his home”. I am not sure whether they or the rest of the residents of this house will have any roof to protect them tonight.
Usually, when the Palestinian receive notices for demolition, they are given the option of demolishing their own homes, which apparently the Abu Eisheh family is refusing to do. If the Israelis complete the demolishing today, they will send the bill to the owners, who have to cover the cost of demolishing, patrolling of police and all other related expenses. So on top of becoming homeless, people have to cover the cost of injustice. The other option is that they will crack the foundations, which they have been doing for the last few hours, and give him few days to complete the demolishing.
It is almost noon, and I just came to work, realizing it will not be a normal day of work for me. Many of our days have not been normal days, yet we have to go on and on and on. Every day we have a new story to share, and every day there is a new family that suffers, new prisoners, new martyrs, and more sufferings. Today we are receiving the group who are visiting YWCA/YMCA on the Journey for Justice, and I have to share with them today our eternal journey of injustice, wondering if there ever will be justice in our land.
At 11:30 a.m., I had to put my mother in my car and risk driving down our street which was blocked with army cars, and where tons of army were standing, and to argue with them that my mother has to go to hospital for her dialysis session. At least 10 army rushed to my car when I got to the middle of the street, asking me to stop immediately. It took lots of arguments to convince the army to let us pass, which finally they did, but most of our neighbors were prisoners in their homes, and probably will not be able to leave until the “operation” is completed. I also wonder at what hour I will be allowed to take my mother back home, and hope that we will return in a decent hour.
My mother was saying that she still remembers when she left her home in Jaffa in 1948, she thought it was for few hours and that they will return home. Well she and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were never able to return to this date, and today the Abu Eisheh family have been forced to leave their home, knowing they will have no house to return to. Every day we add more and more to the list of Palestinian refugees and homeless, and I wonder when will the day come when all these people will have the right to return??
National General Secretary
YWCA of Palestine
Tel. +972 2 6282593
Fax +972 2 6282082