Internationals, Palestinians, Israelis rebuild Palestinian home demolished by Israel

12:00 Jul 17 2011 Anata

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

Mission accomplished: Internationals, Palestinians and Israelis rebuild Palestinian home demolished by Israel

Earlier this month the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) launched its ninth Summer Rebuilding Camp. More than 30 volunteers from Europe and North America joined Palestinians and Israelis in rebuilding a Palestinian family home demolished by Israel in the West Bank town of Anata.

Later today (Sunday) the construction of the Abu Omar family home, long awaited since the 2005 demolition by Israel, will be completed. The keys to the home will be handed over to the family in a celebratory dedication ceremony marking the end of a two week rebuild. Volunteers will be joined by members of the larger Anata community, civil society activists and Palestinian Authority high ranking officials, as family members begin life in their rebuilt home.

Every year hundreds of Palestinians are forced from their homes, homes built on land they own. Since 1967 Israel has demolished more than 25,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel’s policy of house demolitions and evictions is illegal under international law, and is politically motivated; its purpose is to disenfranchise entire Palestinian communities and expropriate their land.

As the program draws to an end, Rebuilding Camp participants look back at what was accomplished and share their accounts of rebuilding a family home, and exploring the Occupation from within. Luma reflects on her experience: "We are resisting in two ways. We are mentally and physically resisting the occupation; We are building a house for a family, but we are also making a political statement." Rachel recalls: "We are not only witnessing, watching and learning, but also constantly discussing and interacting with each other. Every day here is a day of resistance!"

The Abu Omar family home was built in 1990 on privately owned land and demolished by the Israeli military in 2005. Ahmed Abu Omar (46) had applied for a building permit, but was refused on the grounds that his land was zoned as an agricultural area. With a growing family, the Abu Omars had little choice but to build anyway. In 2003 they received notification that the Israeli authorities deemed the house illegally built, and in March 2005 a demolition order was posted to their door. One month later the family home was demolished within a matter of hours by Israeli bulldozers. They were offered neither alternative housing nor compensation for the demolition, which constitutes a grave violation of international law. This reflects Israel’s long-time, unlawful policy of curtailing all construction by Palestinians since 1967.

ICAHD has rebuilt a total of 170 Palestinian homes demolished by Israel and is determined to see this cruel policy stop. ICAHD founder and Co-Director, Prof. Jeff Halper calls the rebuilding "An overtly political act of defiance. By rebuilding, we set alternative facts on the ground."
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