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Houses an Far’un village face imminent demolition

Two houses in the village of Far’un, near Tulkarem, are under threat of imminent demolition as the deadline given by the Israeli authorities for residents to evacuate their homes has come and passed.

The original deadline, which fell on 3rd February 2008, was met with a show of community resistance, with up to 100 villagers holding vigil outside the endangered houses, accompanied by eight international human rights workers. The community presence seemed sufficient to dissuade Israeli authorities from sending bulldozers to demolish the structures before the lawyer for the families could make an appeal of the High Court of Justice. A deadline extension was won, providing the families’ lawyer with ten more days in which to argue their case with the Israeli authorities. This deadline too has now passed, with no assurances the houses will be saved.

The homes, built on the western perimeter of the village, both lie within 50 meters of the segregation wall. Israeli authorities usually require the separation wall to have a “buffer zone” of up to 200 metres of empty land for security purposes. The houses, however, were built in 1998 – six years prior to the construction of the wall, which was completed in the Tulkarem region in 2004. Nonetheless, Israeli authorities have declared the houses “illegal structures”, despite having needlessly constructed the wall so close to residential dwellings.

Eight nearby homes have also been demolished since the construction of the wall – two in 2003 and six in February 2007 – causing chaos in the small village of only 3000 residents, as the forcibly displaced home-owners were compelled to move in to relatives’ homes.

Another nearby home has also received two written warnings advising residents to demolish their own home – a third letter will advise of impending Israeli destruction. The local primary school for boys is also under threat, as one-half of the school grounds lie within the projected “buffer zone”.

The residents currently live in a state of fear and uncertainty – as they have been doing in the four years since their neighbours’ houses were first demolished in 2003. One of the home-owners, a 35 year old man, has remained single, waiting to marry until he had finished building his house so as to have stability to offer his intended family.