Israeli activists seek global help to save Palestinian home


Jerusalem, OCT 1, 2003  —  The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions has issued an urgent appeal to EVERY person concerned with justice, human rights and peace in the Middle East to help save the home of a Palestinian family that has been demolished four previous times. Global citizens are asked to urgently contact their political representatives to demand that the Israeli government rescind the order against the house immediately.

On Monday the “Civil” Administration, Israel’s military government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, issued Mr. Salim Shawamreh a summons to appear before the military court  at the Ofer Detention Center. His only crime: rebuilding  an “illegal” home for his family on his own privately-owned  land. On Tuesday, the Civil Administration issued an order declaring its intent to demolish the home within 48 hours. Army jeeps now stand at the site of the house to prevent activists from reaching it.

“Since it was first demolished by the Israeli authorities five years ago, the Shawamreh house has become a symbol of resistance not only to the Occupation itself, but to Israel’s sustained campaign to displace the Palestinians from their country altogether,” said Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. “It is only one of more than 10,000 houses demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967, the house of a family of refugees who cannot return home since their village in the northern Negev now lies destroyed beneath Israeli agricultural fields, yet is not allowed to build a new home in their place of refuge, on their own land.”

Unable to continue living in the densely-packed Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Salim and his wife, Arabiya, bought a small  plot of land in the nearby village of Anata. Four times they applied for a permit (each application costing about $5000), and each time they were refused for a different reason: their barren stony plot was zoned as “agricultural land”;  the slope was too steep; signatures were missing on the deed; the plot was too close to a planned Israeli highway — then the Civil Administration claimed to have lost their file!  As Salim says, the reasons are immaterial. The true reason for not granting permits and demolishing homes is to confine Palestinians to the islands of Areas A and B  — the 42% of the West Bank Sharon has in mind as the Palestinian “state.” Planning, zoning and legal procedures are nothing more than formal mechanisms concealing political ends.

“We must mobilize our forces not only to prevent this particular demolition, but to declare: ENOUGH! This is where we will draw the line! No more house demolitions. No more settlement expansion. No more wall construction. No more Occupation,”  says Halper.  ”It is time to demand the  real engagement of our political and religious leaders in effectively opposing this apartheid-in-the-making. Enough!”

Update from 3rd October 2003:
After the Palestinian owner of the property received a three-day deadline to appeal a demolition order last week, Israeli lawyer Leah Tzemel first won a 48-hour extention and then, on October 2nd, appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court and won a 15-day freeze, during which Israel must respond ICAHD claims in the appeal.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,, is a non-violent, direct-action group originally  established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. Construction of the Shawamreh home was financed by thousands of donors worldwide and a grant from all four hundred United Methodist Churches of Minnesota through the Global Campaign to Rebuild Palestinian Homes,

For more information contact:
PO Box 2030, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: +972-(0)2-624-5560
Fax: +972-(2)2-622-1530