Israel 'almost doubles number of homes being built in settlements'
Jill Shaw writing from Beit Hanina, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 26 August 2008
|Israeli Yamam police invade the home of Abu Majed Eisha in Beit Hanina. (Jill Shaw)|
The four-story building in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighborhood a few miles north of East Jerusalem, was clearly home to wealth. As our carload of internationals pulled up the small street leading to Abu Majed Eisha's house at around midnight on 27 July, I noticed several BMWs parked along the way. Upon exiting the car, we were greeted by a number of middle-aged Palestinian men in suits, asking us if we were there about the house demolition. From what I had learned during my brief time in the West Bank, Palestine, I knew already that this was not going to be an ordinary house demolition.
And what exactly is an "ordinary" home demolition in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories? According to Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) founder, Jeff Halper, house demolitions are one of Israel's main weapons in its occupation of Palestine. Sadly, this extraordinary and devastating phenomenon is not at all uncommon to Palestinians. ICAHD, an Israeli group whose primary mission is to resist Israel's practice of home demolitions, states that 18,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967. Additionally, another 22,000 East Jerusalem homes have demolition orders on them. This does not include the thousands of homes with demolition orders throughout the rest of the West Bank.
The reason for the destruction? Quite simply, the houses don't have permits. And without a permit, your house is illegal, and therefore subject to demolition. It is this bureaucratic logic that gives Israel's practice of bulldozing Palestinian homes a veneer of legitimacy, for, after all, only "illegal" houses are demolished. Look a bit further, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain, so in fact, any new growth homes are usually illegal.