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Form "International Tribunal on Evictions”

Thursday 26 September 2013 12:45:17 am

General Information

Anata (northeast of Jerusalem)
Area C of the West Bank (Occupied Palestine Territory)
Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh and family

Description of case of forced evictions

1 (already taken place)
Salim and Arabiya each come from families that were made refugees in 1948 when the state of Israel was established. In the early 1990’s they purchased a small plot of land in the village of Anata, close to the Shuafat refugee camp where Salim grew up. Over the course of four years, they applied to the Israeli Civil Administration three times for a building permit and were denied each time for a different reason: the main one being that Israel had zoned virtually the entire West Bank as agricultural land according to a British Mandate plan (RJ-5) formulated in 1942 which freezes Palestinian building to the level it was all those years ago. Indeed, RJ-5 is used to “legally” deny building permits to Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). It is estimated that the number of demolition orders in the West Bank and East Jerusalem reaches tens of thousands of people. Having tried to get permission to construct a home for their family, the Shawamrehs were forced to build their home “illegally”. Upon moving into their modest home, the Shawamrehs filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court to obtain a building permit, hoping to demonstrate a willingness to do whatever the Israeli authorities required, but they were denied. Four years later, in July 1998, their home was demolished for the first time amidst great violence. Despite being traumatized, scared and financially ruined, the family decided to rebuild their home as a political act of resistance to the Occupation, although they did harbour the hope that the Israeli authorities might relent. The then recently formed Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a group of Israeli activists from the far left, mobilized and brought together hundreds of volunteers – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals to rebuild what was called “The House of Peace”. The Israelis did not relent. The newly constructed home was demolished before the family could move in. Refusing to allow the Occupation to prevail, activists (including ICAHD) together with the Shawamrehs, their neighbors and the entire Anata community again rebuilt the home. But again it was demolished, this time after the Shawamrehs had slept in it only one night. The home was subsequently rebuilt and demolished twice more. In 2003 their house was rebuilt for the fifth time and they lodged yet another appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court to grant them a building permit. It was not forthcoming and the Shawamrehs realized that the Israeli authorities would never allow them to live in their home. They therefore dedicated their home as a peace center; a place where Palestinians, Israelis and internationals could meet in order to develop campaigns that would effectively end the Occupation, until the day that they could actually move in. The home/center was named Beit Arabiya in honor of the woman whose home it was. That house stood for nine years during which time thousands of people for all over the world visited it to learn about the issue of house demolitions and the displacement of the Palestinian people. Then on 23 January 2012, the Israeli authorities once again demolished Beit Arabiya. It was rebuilt again by ICAHD during its annual rebuilding camp that brought together Israelis, Palestinians and internationals to reconstruct it in July 2012 as a form of political protest to the Occupation. Then in the early hours of 1 November 2012, the Israelis again demolished the house. In July 2013, ICAHD working with Sabeel and Diakonia constructed another house. Salim, Arabiya and their family are still not allowed to live in their home and must rent an apartment in a neighbouring area.
: In this specific case it is Salim, Arabiya and their seven children. However more than 28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by the Israeli authorities since 1967 when Israel’s occupation began in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. At least 170,000 Palestinians have lost their homes through demolitions and at least half of these are children.
The motivation for demolishing Palestinians homes is purely political, and racially informed: either to drive the Palestinians out of the country altogether (the “quiet transfer”) or to confine the four million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to small, crowded, impoverished and disconnected enclaves. By such practices Israel effectively forecloses any viable Palestinian entity or the realization of Palestinian self-determination; it also solidifies permanent Israeli domination and illegal settlement expansion – de facto annexation of the OPT. Taken against the background of (i) Israel’s systematic destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages, towns and urban neighborhoods in 1948 and after; (ii) the legal steps taken to alienate the Palestinian people from their lands, homes and properties subsequent to the 1948 war; and (iii) its ongoing policy of demolishing the homes of some 150,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel residing in so-called “unrecognized villages and neighborhoods,” the picture that emerges is one of institutional racial discrimination and promulgated ethnic displacement. See more at:
Although exact figures are impossible to determine (the Israeli Government uses the broad term “structures” demolished rather than “homes”), the stages in Israel’s demolition campaign are as follows: Stage 1: Inside Israel (1948–1960s) • Between 1948 and into the 1960s Israel systematically demolished 531 Palestinian villages and eleven urban neighborhoods inside of what became the State of Israel, two-thirds of the villages of Palestine (Pappé 2006). This was not done in the heat of battle, but well after the residents had fled or were driven out, so that the refugees could not return and their lands could be turned over to the Jewish population. Stage 2: In the Occupied Palestinian Territory (since 1967) At the start of the Occupation in 1967, the policy of demolition was carried across the “Green Line” into the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. As of 2009, more than 24,000 Palestinian homes had been destroyed – homes, we must add, of people who had already lost their homes inside Israel in 1948 and after. • At least 6000 houses were demolished immediately following the 1967 war. Four entire villages were razed in the Latrun area (now known as “Canada Park”), while dozens of ancient homes were destroyed in the Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City to create a plaza for the Wailing Wall. • In 1971 Ariel Sharon, then Commander of the Southern Command, cleared 2000 houses in the Gaza refugee camps (some say as many as 6000) to facilitate military control. (After being elected Prime Minister in early 2001 he has overseen the demolition of another 1500 homes in Gaza.) • At least 2000 houses in the OPT were destroyed in the course of quelling the first Intifada in the late 1980s and early 1990s. • Almost 1700 Palestinian homes in the OPT were demolished by the Civil Administration during the course of the Oslo peace process (1993–2000). • During the second Intifada (September 2000–2004), between 4000 and 5000 Palestinian homes were destroyed in military operations, including hundreds in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities of the West Bank, and more than 2500 in Gaza alone. Tens of thousands of other homes were left uninhabitable. Altogether around 50,000 people were left homeless (Human Rights Watch, Razing Rafah, October 2004). Hundreds of shops, workshops, factories and public buildings, including all the Palestinian Authority ministry offices in all the West Bank cities, were also destroyed or damaged beyond repair. According to Amnesty International, more than 3000 hectares of cultivated land – 10% of the agricultural land of Gaza – was cleared during this time. Wells, water storage pools and water pumps which provided water for drinking, irrigation and other needs for thousands of people, were also destroyed, along with tens of kilometers of irrigation networks. • In the same period about 900 Palestinian homes were demolished by the Civil Administration for lack of proper permits. • More than 628 Palestinian homes were demolished during the second Intifada as collective punishment and “deterrence,” affecting families of people known or suspected of involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians. On average 12 innocent people lost their home for every person “punished” for a security offense – and in half of these cases the occupants had nothing whatsoever to do with the acts in question. Though the Israeli government insisted that it pursued this policy to “deter” potential terrorists, 79% of the suspected offenders were either dead or in detention at the time of the demolition (B’tselem, Summary 2004:1,3). • In summary, during the second Intifada, 60% of the Palestinian homes demolished in the OPT were destroyed as part of military “clearing operations;” 25% were demolished as being “illegal,” not having permits; and 15% for collective punishment (B’tselem, Summary 2004:2). • Since the end of the Second Intifada (2005–2012), another 1500 homes have been demolished by the Civil Administration, the Ministry of Interior or the Jerusalem municipality for lack of proper permits. So far in 2013, 438 Palestinians structures have been demolished with 876 Palestinians displaced. • During the invasion of Gaza (December 2008–January 2009), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 4247 homes were demolished and almost 15,000 damaged, many of them rendered uninhabitable; another 400 homes were destroyed in the 2012 invasion, with 3000 people displaced. Stage 3: Back Inside Israel (1990s–present) • Throughout Israel proper, in the “unrecognized” Palestinian and Bedouin villages, as well as in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Ramle, Lod and other Palestinian towns, houses continue to be demolished at an ever-accelerating rate. Some 100,000 “internal refugees” from 1948 and their families still live in more than 100 “unrecognized villages” located in the vicinity of their now-destroyed villages, where they suffer from substandard living conditions and constant threats of demolition. Entire Bedouin villages in the Negev, numbering some 60,000–70,000 residents, are threatened with demolition. Indeed, whereas Arabs comprise almost 20% of Israel’s population of, they are confined by law and zoning policies to a mere 3.5% of the land. In mid-2004 the Israeli government announced the formation of a “Demolition Administration” in the Ministry of Interior to oversee the demolition of the homes– of between 20,000 and 40,000 Israeli Arab citizens. - See more at:
In terms of Salim and Arabiya’s house, when the first house was constructed the cost of the house was around $20,000 US, however building materials have become more expensive so that now the costs of rebuilding their house is nearer $30,000. The first house built was funded by Salim and Arabiya and the six rebuilding that followed the six demolitions have been funded by ICAHD with donations coming in from around the world. Also remember that Salim and Arabiya submitted a total of four applications to build a home with each attempt costing them $5000 US in application fees, surveying, lawyers fees and the like. They were also sent the bills for the cost of the demolition which begin at $1500 per demolition. Multiply this times the number of demolitions that have occurred since 1967 by all the other families.
Arabiya and her children like those from the other Palestinian families have not only been evicted from their homes but in most cases (unless the children are at school) actually witness the demolition of their beloved homes. The usual procedure is that there is a knock at the door and upon answering it an Israeli official will announce that the family has fifteen minutes to get out before their home is demolished. They scramble to grab the most vital processions – identity cards, certificates, photographs and other mementos. Then they stand back to watch furniture being taken out of the home and piled up so that the bulldozer and/or pneumatic drills can within minutes reduced their beloved home to rubble. After the first demolition, Arabiya was unable to speak for month. Until now she has not returned to her former self as she has lost the joy of living and remains fragile psychologically. Demolitions alter, even destroy, a woman’s entire persona and role in the family. Palestinian women generally do not have careers outside the home. Their identity and status as wives, mothers and indeed, persons is wrapped up in their domestic life. Not only do they loose that space which is their domain, but in most cased they are forced to move into the homes of other women – their mothers-in-law or with their sisters-in-law. The overcrowding and tension this generates is exacerbated by the fact that the “guest” woman has little control over the domestic sphere, over the care of her own husband and children, further diminishing her role and status. In many cases this results in severe tensions within the families, including domestic violence spawned by the wife’s demands (even unspoken) for a home of her own, and the husband’s inability to provide it. Eventually families may move into their own rented quarters – another expense – or even rebuild their home, having no choice but to risk another demolition. Whatever the case, for many women a demolished home, like a loved one, can never be replaced, and the wound never heals. For children, the act of demolition – and the months and years leading up to it – is a time of trauma. To witness fear and powerlessness of your parents, to feel constantly afraid and insecure, to see loved ones (relatives and neighbors) being beaten and losing their homes, to experience the harassment of the Israeli Civil Administration field supervisors speeding around your village in their white Toyota jeeps – and then to endure the noise, violence, displacement and destruction of your home, your world, your toys – these events mark children for life. Psychological services are largely absent in the Palestinian community and there are many signs of trauma and stress among children: bed-wetting, nightmares, fear to leave home lest one ‘abandon’ parents and siblings to the army, dramatic drops in grades and school-leaving, as well as the effects of exposure to domestic violence that occasionally follows impoverishment, displacement and humiliation. Salim and Arabiya’s children still suffer, especially from nightmares and panic attacks. One son remains traumatized, can only get a job doing menial work and though in his mid twenties, cries easily.
The demolitions that happen within Jerusalem are planned and executed by the Jerusalem Municipality. The demolitions that occur in the West Bank and Gaza stem from Israel’s Ministry of Interior. Homes have been demolished and land cleared to: free up land on which to create illegal settlements build settler-only by-pass roads construct the separation wall build military installations as collective punishments

Support, measures taken and follow up

sì (yes: which?)
Yes. For Salim and Arabiya the main support organisation that has worked with them since 1998 at the time of their first demolition has been the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD). ICAHD has also worked with other families and over the years has rebuilt 187 Palestinian homes as a form of non-violent political protest to the Occupation. Other organisations have also worked on the issue of demolitions and displacement such as Ir Amin, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Al-Haq and Adalah. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights record statistics and try to distribute aid (tents and water) to families who have lost their home. However overall it is support in kind and not by offering finances.
ICAHD activists have physically stood in front of bulldozers and chained themselves to Palestinian homes try to prevent demolition. They have never been successful in stopping the demolition but they delayed the demolition so instead of the Israeli authorities demolishing, for example, five homes in one day, they only had time to demolish two homes. In the case of Salim and Arabiya’s house, ICAHD has helped the family take their case to the Israeli Supreme Court, the highest court in their land, to have the demolition order on their house rescinded. In both cases they were over-ruled and the Shawamreh’s were fined. ICAHD has facilitated opportunities for the Shawamrehs to brief politicians, diplomats, representatives from religious bodies, peace and justice groups and the media. ICAHD has also raised international awareness about the issue of house demolitions and displacement. Its founder and director, Jeff Halper, has led the way in travelling the world to tell this specific story and on some occasions Salim and Arabiya have also travelled abroad on speaking tours. Articles have been written and films and photographic exhibitions made to tell this story to help internationals understand that the racial displacement of the Palestinian people from their homeland is a fundamental policy of Israel and that because of this grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, there can never be peace in Palestine or in the wider Middle East. Internationals who support ICAHD have used Salim and Arabiya’s story in lobbying their political representatives. Early Day motions have been presented in the British Parliament on this issue and questions on demolitions and displacement have been asked in both Houses of the UK Parliament. The UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT, Prof Richard Falk highlighted the disturbing case of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh in his annual report to the Human Rights Council in 2012, and stated it was “illustrative of a common Palestinian complaint that their property rights are indirectly usurped through the denial of formal permits and the subsequent issuance and execution of demolition orders.” The UN expert further highlighted that “while it will be rebuilt once again next month, the family will live under the threat of having its home demolished at any moment. The ever-present threat of Israeli bulldozers perverts the sense of normalcy so essential for raising children.” United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Prof. Raquel Rolnik visited the ruins of Beit Arabiya in February 2012 following its fifth demolition and as part of her two week tour of Israel and the OPT. In one of her concluding remarks she said, “From the Galilee and the Negev to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli authorities promote a territorial development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities, particularly affecting Palestinian communities.”
Despite all our efforts in education, awareness-raising, non-violent direct actions and lobbying we have not been able to reduce the devastating effects on a family that has lost their home and been displaced. However Palestinians know that there are those within the Israeli Jewish community who utterly oppose their government’s Occupation policies which has gone beyond Occupation to an Apartheid situation that is seeing the Palestinians warehoused into overcrowded disconnected enclaves where there growing poverty and despair. They also know that more of international civil society understands the injustice of their experience of living under an oppressive occupation. In January 2005, ICAHD was the first Israeli organisation to call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until the Occupation ends and this has now become a global movement. Beit Arabiya has become a living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice and peace. During ICAHD’s 11th annual rebuilding camp in August 2013, thirty internationals joined Israelis and Palestinians who worked side by side, refusing to be enemies, in constructing a memorial site commemorating the 28,000 Palestinian homes that have been demolished by Israeli authorities . Visitors can walk through the ruins of a demolished home and view exhibits on aspects of the Occupation and Beit Arabiya is now a place where Palestinian and international artists can perform and where Palestinian and Israeli activists can meet to strategize.
Israel has never awarded compensation to any Palestinian who has had their house demolished and been displaced because according to Israel’s zoning and planning laws, which are discriminatory, it’s the Palestinians who do not have permission to build or even extend houses on land that they own. Because Israel did not give them a building permit, their homes are demolished. The most that Palestinians get is a small canvas tent from either the UN or the Red Cross but that is only a temporary measure.
no (no)
There is only one option offered: if Palestinians demolish their homes themselves, they are spared a fine and receiving the bill for the use of the bulldozer and the cost of bringing in between 100 – 200 members of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) which happens during demolitions. This is a practice that is increasingly happening in East Jerusalem. Palestinians are told that there house “might” be demolished in a few days so are advised that they will be “better off” if they do the demolition themselves within that time frame.
It is very likely that Beit Arabiya will be demolished for the seventh time and should that happen we will continue to rebuild it until the Occupation ends and the Shawamreh family can live in the house. In the meantime we continue with all our campaigning efforts. If Salim Shawamreh is invited to participate in this forthcoming Tribunal on Evictions is also becomes part of our international awareness-raising efforts. We believe that governments only do the right thing when pushed by civil society and we hope that by being at the tribunal it will be another step that will eventually push the Israeli government to comply with international law.
There is no specific date. If Beit Arabiya is demolished for the seventh time ICAHD will mobilize in response.

Details of the person registering information

Linda Ramsden
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK
0044 033 000 11033
We would like Salim Shawamreh to present the case of the six demolitions he and his family have suffered.

Documents (to upload)

No media file is available.
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Publication Conditions

si (si)
si (yes)