Category Archives: Home demolitions

UK subsidises house demolition in Palestine

house demolition

In a surprising policy the UK funds the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has a programme to help Palestinians whose homes have been illegally demolished by the Israeli government. Surprising because the UK maintains positive diplomatic relations with Israel, and trade relations amounting to billions of pounds each year. The UK maintains these positive relations while ‘utterly condemning’ the illegal demolitions.

Decades of similar policies make it clear that the UK maintains its commercial relationship with Israel at all costs, and that its criticism of Israel’s human rights policies are for appeasement of a public unhappy with Israeli policies. The UK government has never been willing to go beyond condemnations to stop the Israeli government from its policies. In fact, money paid to the Norwegian Refugee Council can be seen to be a subsidy to the occupation, since it absolves the government of Israel of financial responsiblity for the problems it creates by house demolition.

Up to twenty homes in Yatma are subject to demolition orders by the Israeli Occupation Forces. The Occupation delivers demolition orders when Palestinians build houses in areas the Israelis consider reserved for military purposes (Israelis can illegally build on Palestinian land in the military zones usually without problems from the military).

Yatma is completely surrounded by ‘Zone C’ military reserve. There are no alternatives to building on the military reserve land, and Israeli permission to build is normally not forthcoming. Appeal processes exist but are stacked against the Palestinian homeowner. Once appeals are exhausted houses can be demolished at any moment subject to the whim of the military command. Most houses under demolition orders in Yatma are in this situation.

What you can do:

Keep up the letters to MP Amber Rudd, asking her to take up the cause of Palestinians. Point out that we shouldn’t be subsidising house demolition. Demand that Britain put human rights considerations ahead of commercial interests.

HFOY rubble of house demolished by Israeli forces

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Home demolitions, Yatma

Israeli Occupation Army plans to demolish 21 Yatma houses

We have received news that the Israeli army plans to demolish 21 homes in Yatma, after they were ordered to by Israeli courts. Residents of the homes had until Thursday (yesterday) to appeal, but to date we have not heard the outcome.

The mayor of the village, Abdulmunem Jibril, said the demolitions would leave 150-200 people homeless and expressed surprise at the move because there were no settlements in the immediate area. He said the move by the Israeli government was likely to please settlers in the run up to Israeli elections.

Once the appeal process has been exhausted, houses could be demolished at any time, without warning. Typically residents find the demolition crew and army on their doorstep, are given a few minutes to remove their possessions, and the house is razed.

Since the successful recognition bid by Palestininans at the UN in November, the Israeli government has accelerated the replacement of Palestinians by Jewish settlers, by initiating large housing projects on Palestinian land in the Jerusalem area, and now by expanding the rate of demolition of Palestinian homes.

For background on the house demolition threat in Yatma, please see these previous articles. Yatma home demolitions threatened again 13 Homes Face Demolition in Yatma Also, see this account of a home demolition in a nearby village, witnessed by HFOY member Gill Knight in November 2012.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Home demolitions, Israeli occupation forces

Using Water as a Weapon

(A short journey through the ethically cleansed landscape of the Jordan Valley)

16th November, 2012

The one day trip was organised by the Jenin Freedom Theatre Bus Tour and is a snapshot of what happens in the Jordan Valley. It focusses on water rather than land confiscation. Full reports can be found in the references below.

A brief overview of the area

The Jordan Valley comprises 30% of Palestinian territory and approximately 87% of it is in Area C – meaning that Israel has full administrative control. In 1967, 360,000 Palestinians, mainly Bedouin, lived in the Jordan Valley now less than 60,000 live here, the majority in Jericho, a large urban area.

How has this happened?by the stealth of creeping ethnic cleansing.

The Jordan Valley is considered to be Palestine’s bread basket. Since 1967, Israel has implemented: the confiscation of its fertile land; closed military and firing zones; movement and building restrictions; demolition of farms and dwellings; control of Palestinian access to local, Arab and world markets. At the same time Israeli governments have encouraged, with subsidies, Jewish couples to colonise the area and there are now 35 settlements and 7 outposts on confiscated Palestinian land – a total 97% of the valley is off limits for the Palestinians for cultivation.

As we travel along the highway 90 there is plenty to see of intensive settler farming and the packaging units that will distribute fruit, especially bananas, directly to Europe. The profits accrued from this intensive farming and the profits from it are sourced from stolen water, a $114 million industry in 2010. The Veolia controlled land fill site is also spotted! – for settlement waste only! The Palestinians are forbidden to develop solid waste dumps or sewage treatment of their own.

Veolia landfill- for settlers only!

Water Control

This has been a key factor in the ethnic cleansing in the Valley. By depriving the indigenous population the means to cultivate crops and provide water for their livestock communities have been economically squeezed out of the region.

Since 1995, as the Oslo Accord was not clear about water allocation, Mekorot, the government controlled Israeli water company, have been in charge of water distribution. (The situation is more complex than this explanation, please use a reference!)

Needless to say the water is pumped to the settlements, for intensive irrigation use and Palestinians are forced to buy their rationed supply at inflated prices. The herders store water in tanks that are frequently confiscated by the army. Permits to dig news wells or renovate old ones are never issued.

According to a 2009 Save the Children factsheet 9,400 Israeli settlers consume 6.6 times more water than the 56,000 Palestinian residents in the Jordan Valley.

The Israeli army have destroyed 162 water projects along highway 90

Stopping at Al ‘Auja spring, Israeli water theft is clearly depicted in the photo….side by side there is the heavily secured Israeli pumping system and the original, destroyed water pump, existing from Ottoman times.

Settler water pumping station

Also spotted as we speed past, is the land fill site operated by Veolia – only for settler rubbish!!! Also the settlements do not control sewage leakage and so cause pollution in springs and underground water.

We visit Al Hadidya – a community completely surrounded by the Roi settlement and settlement agriculture/industry. Al Sharat, community spokesman, gave us a vivid account; out of the original 35 communities In Al Hadidya only 14 survive. He said ‘We will not leave our land’. But how long can they hold out? They suffer army harassment:

– damage to their property

– aggressive attacks and detention of the shepherds

– restricted access to their land for grazing

-being in a firing zone, now Austere Challenge (US/IOF combined military exercises) have tank manoeuvres taking place in front of their fragile settlements. We saw extensive track marks in numerous places.

(In the map, the dark maroon is the built up settlement, the maroon dots indicate settlement agriculture/industrial units, the dark grey is a Military Base, the blue is Area C and the dotted blue closed military zones)

Map of Al Hadidya in the Jordan Valley

The Jenin Freedom Theatre hold a Plackback Session where villagers tell their stories and these are reenacted by the performers, mainly using mime and with some musical effects. They are really moving and the gathered crowd is engrossed. But before this happens the Army visit us, demanding to know what we are doing and stating that the settlers have to give permission for us to have lunch! Al Sharat says that we will eat with or without it and we do. The army jeeps eventually leave – did they get the permission?

Jenin Community Theatre playback session

Jenin Community Theatre playback

It was a informative, moving day and as we leave a herd of sheep are shepherded over the hills – an almost biblical scene …. surely more appropriate to the Holy Land than intensive farming and depletion of the natural resources!

Lastly, we visit the mud brick house and workshop of the Jordan Valley Solidarity – a project aimed at providing more substantial housing for the Valley inhabitants ….run by Palestinians but anyone can volunteer to make the bricks!

Water is a human right

In a 2010 resolution, the UN General Assembly recognised “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” Also in 2010, the UN Human Rights Council recognised the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation as “derived from the right to an adequate standard of living” and “inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity.”

References

www.ochaopt.org

jordanvalleysolidaritycampaign.org

unispal.un.org

www.amnesty.org – Troubled Waters

www.oxfam.org – On the Brink – well worth a read.

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Filed under Home demolitions, Israeli occupation forces, Land seizures, Water supply

As Safe as Houses (A Report from Gill from Hares, West Bank)

You might have read yesterday’s Guardian article:

Israel says it is pushing forward with the construction of more than 1,200 new homes in Jewish settlements, in an apparent warning to the Palestinians to rethink their plan to ask the United Nations to recognise an independent state of Palestine.”

So it is safe to build if you are an Israeli, but not so for the Palestinians.

Our group of the International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS)were called to our neighbouring village of Hares yesterday because the Israeli army and two bulldozers had appeared,  to knock down three homes. The families had built houses on land they owned and needed to build for their growing families. (Traditionally village families are large and live in extended homes).

Palestinian house being demolished by Israeli forces

The whole village was distraught, large crowds protested and were met with tear gas, sound bombs and eventually live ammunition.

A gathers at the site of the house demolition

Tear gas and shell casings

I will write more about this situation – just off to meet with lawyers, families and another demonstration.

The rubble from a house demolished by Israeli forces

A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.”

Other reports:

http://www.imemc.org/article/64526

http://occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/westbankunderattack-clashes-take-place-in-hares-village-near-salfit-army-demolishes-homes/

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Filed under Home demolitions

Gill visits the village of ‘Izbat at Tabib’

Occupying the Occupation at ‘IZBAT at TABIB

Working with the IWPS (International Women’s Peace Service) we visit many villages in the South Nablus area. All are affected by the occupation in direct and indirect ways.

Mohammed, a peace activist, drove us to the village of ‘Izbat at Tabib. He and Mousa, who lives here, gave us a profile of the village and its current problems with the Israeli government. The village is in Area C (Israeli controlled military zone), as is 60% of the West Bank. Villagers are always denied permission for new build, forcing the Palestinians into cramped living conditions and denying them the opportunity to improve facilities.

The village was founded in 1922 and the present population is 250 people, comprising two extended families living in 45 households. There are also about 10 Bedouin families settled there.The Israeli settlement of Alfe Menashe can been seen from ‘Izbat and from the adjacent Palestinian village of Isla. Within the Israeli settlement there is private Palestinian land, planted with olives belonging to these villages, and to the villagers of nearby Azzoun. Last year IWPS supported Mousa and his family in his olive harvest, as his trees are situated on land which forks between the old road and and a settler road. He has lost 50 dunams of family land and 5 dunams of personally owned land to the Israeli settlement. Mohammed, like other villagers, has private land within Alfe Menashe and he will have to acquire 3 military permits to enable him to see his trees. He will also have to hire a Jewish security guard and a jeep to gain entry.

School under threat of demolition

Current Problems

‘Izbat built a school and clinic two years ago and on the 3rd September a demolition order was served on the building by Israeli military commanders. A house at the entry to the village has already been demolished, on the 1st May. Villagers have been given one month to get appeal documents together to bring to court. They have erected a protest tent in front of the school. Every day the army enters the village on patrol, but villagers do not have any current conflict with settlers.

The second problem is a proposed road bypass construction between An Nabi Elyas and a road gate near Azzoun. The purpose of this is to join the settler road so that it will avoid going through An Nabi Elyas. This Israeli-only road will take land from the adjacent villages. Also planned are two barrier gates on a road between Azzoun and Kafr Thulth. This will take more land from both towns and also isolate them from each other.

Resistance

The village has set up a large tent in front of the school and villagers gather there for meetings and to watch for any IOF activity.

Mousa, whose house was built by his grandfather, fears that the Israelis want the Palestinians to evacuate ‘Izbat at Tabib. As Mohammed says ‘they want to make life so hard for us that we will want to leave – they are trying to boil us.’

Izbat’s protest tent

 

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Home demolitions

School Demolitions

Not only houses are demolished by Israeli occupation authorities.

Schools are also targets of demolitions, as the occupation seeks to ensure that Palestinian communities are restricted to the areas assigned to them and are not permitted to expand into what are considered Israeli controlled ‘security zones’. (Illegal Israeli settlements are generally permitted by the Israeli authorities, however).

It isn’t believed that any of the Yatma schools are threatened be demolition orders, because they are located in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

However there are as many as 2o schools throughout the West Bank which have been allegedly constructed in violation of Israeli occupation laws and have been subjected to demolition orders. These orders have been appealed and demolitions held in abeyance. But recently Israeli courts promised to speed up consideration of appeals. Because appeals are generally rejected, we can expect that there will be a surge in school demolitions in 2012.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Home demolitions, Israeli occupation forces, Yatma

Yatma Home Demolitions Threatened Again

Several homes in Yatma are threatened by demolition by Israeli occupation forces.

Yatma is completely surrounded by the highly restrictive ‘Area C’, which gives occupation forces complete control over all activities, including home development. (On this map Yatma is in yellow, Area C is in white). 60 % of West Bank land is designated Area C, generally off limits for Palestinians to build on.

Palestinians are rarely given permission to build in Area C, even though it may be the only place left to build in growing Palestinian communities. (Settlers frequently build houses on Palestinian land designated Area C, and are rarely challenged).

Several houses built in Yatma have been threatened with demolition, and there has been pressure by Israeli militants to have demolition orders enforced. However there has been no action by Israeli authorities for several years.

This week, Haretz reported that the Israeli State Attorney’s office has promised to expedite consideration of appeals to demolition orders, which will certainly result in demolition of more Palestinian houses and schools. House demolition was already up substantially in 2011 over 2010, probably the result mostly of demolitions in East Jerusalem, and the result of demolitions of Bedouin homes.

Anyone wanting to join others in rebuilding Palestinian houses demolished by occupation forces should contact the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, who run a ‘Summer Rebuilding Camp’.

Amnesty is running a major campaign to stop home demolitions and are asking for help.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, HFOY projects in Yatma, Home demolitions, Yatma