by John, December 11th
Last night human rights workers learned that there were going to be demolitions of houses in the Jerusalem district today so we travelled to Al ‘Isawiya. When we arrived we found that the house had already been destroyed and that the bulldozer had come at 5am. The father of the family was there but the children and mother were all ‘sick’ – stressed by the events of the day. This is the second time the house has been knocked down – they were told if they paid $10,000-20,000 it may be saved but of course they do not have that money. They had rebuilt it after the last demolition simply because they had nowhere else to go.
This family will now move into another house next door which other members of their extended family live in – the reason they had moved out is because there were too many to fit in this house – now 6 people will have to move into a house with a similar number. The space available to them is pretty small as it was, so this is going to make the situation even worse. Luckily they had enough time to retrieve almost all their belongings before the house was knocked down.
HRWs were also present later at a house on the Mount of Olives while the demolition took place, but police would not let internationals anywhere near because of ‘orders’. When questioned, one of the soldiers pushed a journalist for no real reason, only a small push, but still it is unacceptable as he was not trying to pass the soldier at the time, simply trying to ascertain why he was not allowed past. One police officer said that before this house, they demolished a Jewish house and were going onto another Jewish house, in fact a lot of the houses they knock down are Jewish. Of course she was vague on details and we replied we had never heard of this – one person in the group has researched this extensively, but she said see had seen different research. They then said we can take pictures from where we were, although the house could not be seen from this position.
Eventually some got onto the roofs of other properties but most of it was over. The soldiers and police who were there were all patting each other on the back and shaking hands – job done. The children were there and some of the grown men had tears in their eyes.
Other houses in this area have been bulldozed recently as well, and some residents seem worried that still more houses might be next. This month has seen a large number of properties bulldozed in the West Bank, and with many other properties threatened, more are likely in the near future. Since the start of 2004 234, and so far this year 36 Palestinian houses have been demolished in Jerusalem alone.
A family home in Walaja, west of Bethlehem, was destroyed for the third time today.