Our house, in the middle of our street

Israeli bulldozers demolish a Palestinian house in the village of Issawiya, on the edge of Jerusalem, 25 December 2006. According to the Israeli authorities, the house was demolished due to lack of permits. (MaanImages/Moamar Awad)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Today I sat in the comfortable air conditioned office of Trocaire’s partner B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights information centre.

Meanwhile, out on the ranch — Aine Bhreathnach the Middle East emergency programme officer went on a tour of Jerusalem with B’Tselem staff.

On the tour, which illustrates how Israel is using the wall to annex Palestinian land, they witnessed a house demolition taking place.

As Aine witnessed it, the facts are this, in her words:

“Five families lived in a house in Sur Bahir, a village near Jerusalem which is being annexed to Jerusalem by Israel.

On the 22nd of January 2006, their homes were demolished.

Why? Because they built their home without planning permission.

Why did they build their home without planning permission?

Because the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municaplity did not give them permission to build their homes.

Why did the Jersualem municipality not give permission for the families to build their homes?

Because the municapility does not want Palestinians to build houses in this area — even though the land belongs to the Palestinian people. But they are not wanted there …

Who protects the Palestinian families? I saw the Israeli police and army watch. In fact, I saw them eat their lunch while the mechanical arm of the bulldozing crane pulled the house down.

The role of the police is to protect the instrument of destruction, not the human rights of victims.

Three generations of the family watched helplessly as their homes were destroyed.

The elderly watched as their life’s work and savings were destroyed. The adults watched as their ability to protect and care for their parents and children was destroyed. The children watched as their future was destroyed.

Why, why why?”

Many of you will be aware of Trocaire’s campaign with the Rabbis for Human Rights to prevent the demolition of the Dari family home in East Jerusalem. Our campiagn was unsuccesful, but we and our partners on the ground will keep on struggling to fight discrimination, to fight injustice and to fight this occupation. Keep on struggling with us. Please.

Eoin Murray is a Programme Officer for Trocaire.