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Jerusalem: ICAHD Continues to Rebuild!

July 17th, 2007. The below report was written by Summer Camp participant: P.R.

The decision was made. We as the summer camp now officially have two houses to reconstruct. We all woke up this morning with a day of brick setting and cement pouring ahead of us. Some of us woke to the sound of mosquitoes in our ears, others to the splash of cold dew dripping down from the tent tarp between their noses. We moved on to the building site after breakfast and did exactly what we were meant to; Setting bricks into walls. But before we could pour the cement Meir received a phone call and asked if we’d like to accompany him to see a demolition in Jerusalem. Many of us went with him and as we watched the green army jeeps leave the Israeli base we realized that they were headed toward Anata. It was quite a scare. I myself was in the van where people feared that the demolition team was coming to destroy our in-progress home.

Back at camp however, the family panicked and some tears were shed in the thought of once again losing their house. The workers had already abandoned the site by the time we had arrived. Meir clarified that our house was not in danger of demolition but the house just down the hill was about to be torn down. He warned us not to approach the demolition site as to avoid attracting attention to our project.

We all climbed to the upper floors of a large apartment building and watched as the bulldozer inched toward the little house. Soldiers surrounded the entire house and even went as far as placing soldiers amongst the crowds of Palestinians and internationals watching on the hillsides. Watching the demolition really made me question my own opinions. I don’t consider myself an optimist, but I know that there is a considerable amount of Israeli’s who do oppose this government and its policies. I believe in the good of men. It is moments and atrocities like the one that I witnessed today that make me doubt my own beliefs. We all stood on the balcony, some of us filming, some of us taking pictures and a lot of us discussing. But all of us had the same feeling of disbelief and hopelessness. For a single moment I thought that many of us in this camp lost our sense of hope.

When I finally went down and closer to the house and the soldiers, I continued to watch. Some of the Palestinian kids were staring at the soldiers. One of the soldiers asked in Hebrew “What are you looking at?” and approached the child. The kid’s older brother took to his defense and the soldier told him to shut up. I guess it never escalated because of our presence as foreigners. But it was appalling for me to see people just a year or two older than me seem so heartless. I never was keen on the draft, and this reminded me why. The soldiers left and we saw the children throw their stones and down came the tear gas canisters. We left to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

Jeff Halper had returned from the United States and when we got back to Beit Arabiya he, Salim and Meir debriefed us about the whole event. Why the house was demolished and the events that led up to it. The family was not even home, but they have to come back to a pile of rubble. We decided as a whole to continue both our current project and give hope to the newly distressed by also reconstructing their home. And so the decision was made that this year, we will have two homes to dedicate, two hopes to restore, and two families to rebuild.

To view the photo of the day, please click on the below link: