Israel destroys Palestinian home for second time

The Israeli authorities demolished a Palestinian home for the second time this year in the Galilee village of Kufr Kana yesterday.

The home belongs to Tareq al-Khatib, who rebuilt it after Israeli bulldozers first razed it in April. Following the home’s reconstruction, Israel’s interior ministry issued yet another demolition order “under the pretext of unauthorized construction,” the Arab48 website reports.

Although heavily armed Israeli forces arrived on the scene before sunrise, “hundreds of people gathered near the house in an attempt to prevent the demolition,” adds Arab48. Clashes quickly broke out between local Palestinians and police, who attacked the residents with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.

In the end, the home was demolished and four people were arrested, including al-Khatib. The demolition was caught on video and published at Arab48.

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live in cities, towns and villages across present-day Israel and face dozens of discriminatory laws, according to Adalah, a Haifa-based legal group that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“I don’t believe what is happening,” al-Khatib said before being detained, as reported by the right-wing Times of Israel. “It is my right to live with my family in a house like a human being. I did not break the law, but rather built on my own land. We live in a state that is abandoning its citizens instead of helping them.”

“Nowhere else to live”

“I will build it [the home] a thousand times if they force me to do so,” al-Khatib, a father of six, added. “I have nowhere else to live.”

Yesterday evening, hundreds of Palestinians assembled in Kufr Kana to protest the ongoing home demolitions in Palestinian communities across present-day Israel.

The protest was attended by several Palestinian political leaders in Israel from the Joint List, a coalition of Palestinian-majority parties in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, as well as the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.

“The demonstration was called by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel,” reports Arab48, referring to an extra-parliamentary political body for Palestinians in Israel.

“Demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and banners condemning Israeli demolition policies that target the Arab [minority in Israel] under the pretext of unlicensed construction and to release the detainees [from that morning],” it adds.

The protesters also spoke out against Israel’s ongoing denial of master plans in Palestinian communities, which leaves residents with little choice but to build without construction permits.

The latest demolition comes at a time when Israeli authorities have stepped up efforts to destroy Palestinian homes across the country.

Just days after al-Khatib’s home in Kufr Kana was destroyed for the first time, Israeli forces flattened five homes in three different buildings in Dahmash, a Palestinian village in the central region of present-day Israel.

Despite being home to more than 700 Palestinians, Israel claims Dahmash was illegally built and has slated the entire village for demolition, as The Electronic Intifada reported at the time.

In late May, Israeli bulldozers plowed through al-Araqib, a village in the Naqab (Negev) region. It has been destroyed 84 times since 2010.

Earlier that month, Israel’s high court ruled that the government can evict Palestinian Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran — another village in the Naqab region — in order to make way for a new Jewish-only settlement.

“As a result, thousands of Bedouin citizens are now in even greater danger of imminent displacement, with Israeli law turned even further against them,” Amjad Iraqi, an international advocacy coordinator at Adalah, told The Electronic Intifada following the court’s ruling.   


Patrick Strickland

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Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and frequent contributor at The Electronic Intifada. He is presently working on his first book for the London-based publishing house Zed Books. See his in-depth coverage for EI.