Demolition of Abu Sha’ira family home in Al-Azza refugee camp

Mervat Abu Sha’ira

This report concerns the demolition of the family home of Mervat Abu Sha’ira, a 9-year-old member of the Handala Cultural Center dance troupe. Mervat’s 32-year-old father was killed on 14 June 2001 during an armed clash between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinians in Beit Jala.

On Friday 27 February 2004, at 1:00am, between 15-20 Israeli army jeeps and armored personal carriers entered Al-Azza’ camp and surrounded the home and several neighboring houses. The occupation forces asked residents to leave their homes at gunpoint, and began a search campaign which lasted for 5 hours.

During that time all the families in the neighborhood were held at the entrance of the camp, numbering more than 120 persons — the overwhelming majority of whom were children. They were held in an open area out in the cold and were not told what was going on. Mervat’s family were told that they have 15 minutes to remove the important things out of their home as it was going to be demolished.

When the Israeli troops blew up the Abu Sha’ira home, another three neighbouring homes were almost completely destroyed, and an additional five homes were made structurally unsound for living. Many other homes had minor damage. More than 70 people were made homeless.

Al-‘Azza refugee camp is located in the city of Bethlehem. With a population of 1,900 refugees, the camp arose from Israeli ethnic cleansing in 1949/1950. The camp has 128 dwellings on 20 dunums (5 acres) making it one of the densest population areas in the world.

Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: House Demolitions