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Newsletter: January 2015
 
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Qasam Tameze walks through the ruins of his demolished sheep yard. 


DESTROYED MEMORIES DESTROYED LIVELIHOODS 

 
Israeli Coalition against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD) state that 27,000 structures have been demolished by the Israeli state in Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967. This destructive practice continues into 2015, displacing more Palestinian families, destroying Palestinian livelihoods and expropriating more Palestinian land.

In a particularly cold spell, both the Jaabari family and the Tameze family had their family businesses destroyed by the Israeli military, with animal shelters and fields flattened, without explanation. Both families have already been subject to the terror of demolition by Israeli forces.

Hundreds of homes such as the homes of the Jaabari and the Tameze family are located in 'Area C' under full Israeli military control. 

Such actions are often justified on account of Israeli authorities not issuing permits for a particular structure. To contextualise this, ICAHD report that 
94% of Palestinian permit applications are denied.

The terror of home and livelihood destruction is one of the many p
olicies of Israel's illegal military occupation which functions to further Israeli expansion in to West Bank, and a bid to force Palestinians from their land.  See CPT's blog post fo
llowing the demolition of the Jaabari family's farming units here.

 
Zuheira Dundes cries as the house she owns on Shuhada street is welded shut by Israeli forces. 

 


MORE HOUSES WELDED SHUT ON SHUHADA STREET

 
On 19th January, Israeli forces welded Zuheira Hashem Dundes front doors shut in Hebron. Her family have owned these two houses for centuries. Now her belongings are sealed inside her house on Shuhada street, and she must live in her son's house across the street. Shuhada Street represents just one element of Israel's system of apartheid, as most of the street is closed to Palestinians, leaving Zuheira and her daughter-in-law some of the only Palestinians still living in this contentious area.

Dozens of IDF soldiers surrounded the houses, arguing with the two women, and Israeli settlers also arrived on the scene. Journalists and local Palestinians gathered, and soldiers began pushing the crowd back away from the houses, while allowing settlers to stand close and antagonize the crowd. Zuheira has high blood pressure and diabetes, and after fainting, an ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers completed the welding shut of her doors. 

The official reason given by the IDF for closing these houses is that two molotov cocktails were thrown from the roof toward the nearby Beit Hadassah settlement. When CPTers questioned one of the police officers, he admitted that the old women were not responsible throwing molotov cocktails, and that neither the police nor the IDF had not talked to them women about the incident before sealing off their houses. Evidence of the alleged Molotov cocktail event remains murky as the police provided no evidence and the proximity of the Dundes house to the settlement is too far for an individual to throw an object and have it reach the settlement. 

Because most of Shuhada Street is closed to Palestinians, the unjustified actions of the IDF are even more devastating. More of the street is now empty, which will make it easier for nearby settlements to expand into this area.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 49 and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are
illegal. The welding shut of Zuheira’s houses is a part of the slow takeover of this part of Hebron through military and settlement expansion, creating a corridor of Israeli control which threatens to further strangle the old city of Hebron. See more information here, and photos here

 
Settler activity on Abu Haikel family land led to erosion of already narrowed footpaths in January's snow.


SETTLER ACTIVITY WAGES ON IN TEL RUMEIDA  


The family’s cherished almond and cherry orchards are a thing of the past; only a few straggling trees survived the bulldozers of the Israeli Antiquities Authorities (IAA) in the last year. On 31 December 2014, the Abu Haikel family had their case protesting Israel’s takeover of the land on which they held a protected tenancy contract for more than sixty years heard in the Israeli High Court, only to find that the State of Israel, in a secret deal, had given the land to Hebron settlers in 2012. A section of the family’s retaining walls also collapsed in January because of the digging beneath them; the footpath to one of their front doors is also danger of collapse.

In the High Court hearing, the three judges glossed over why Israel took over the tenancy from the Abu Haikels, stating that the family had done nothing to establish tenancy despite the fact they have faithfully paid rent on it for decades. The Abu Haikels are represented by a lawyer supplied by the Hebron municipality; against them are three lawyers representing the State of Israel, the Jewish settlers of Hebron and the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Meanwhile, despite the fact that no reputable archaeological enterprise accomplishes its work with bulldozers, the IAA continues to destroy the Abu Haikel’s property and that of their neighbors.

A member of the family visited CPT on 14 January to update them on the family’s legal situation and next steps. A meeting is planned with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, the PA Ministry of Tourism and some Israeli solidarity groups, yet the prospects for improvement in the family’s fortunes look bleak. When asked why the family continues to resist, he replied, “Well if you don’t stop them at every point, the whole thing keeps on shrinking.”

An expanded version of this article is available
here, and a timeline of settlement expansion on the Abu Haikel’s land here.
 

 
A 16 year old Palestinian boy arrested by Israeli soldiers on 17.01.15

 

A CHILD ARREST IN HEBRON VIEWED BY 3 MILLION 

 
The video is available here.

CPT's Palestine team has tried for years through various media to bring attention to the arrest of Palestinian minors by the Israeli military. But a five-minute film shot in December by Palestine team intern Yousef Natsheh probably reached a wider audience in a week than all their previous years worth of efforts combined.
 
The video shows Israeli Border police arresting two ten-year-old boys for allegedly throwing stones.  The boys insist tearfully that they were not throwing stones; they had been going to buy snacks at a market after finishing exams.  The elderly father of one boy asks that they shoot him rather than arrest the boys, but in the end, the soldiers load the boys in the van and take them away. Natsheh was able to begin filming just after the father told the Border Police it was illegal for them to arrest the boys (because they were under the age of twelve.)
 
By the end of December, Natsheh’s largely unedited video showed that it had reached more than a million people on Facebook, and had more than two million views on the Gaza-based Shehab News Agency Some of the comments include, ‘This is so hard to watch”; “I can’t believe the world is silent”; “Watching this video made my blood boil…why is this not on [the] news?” “The whole family will be scarred for life. May these soldiers grow a moral conscience.”  Natsheh thinks the film’s impact stems from the fact that it shows Israeli soldiers do not follow their own laws, and from how determined they were to arrest the ten-year-olds even though they had no proof that the children had thrown stones.
 
“We were lucky to be able to get this video,” he said, “because incidents like these happen to Palestinians a lot of the time when there is no camera around.  Living under occupation makes normal life impossible for these children”
 
The boys were later released without charges. The video is available
here
. The image above documents another child arrest which occurred in January 2015.
 

 

 

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