UPDATE 8 am Israel time Thursday:
It was announced last night that Egypt will open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza permanently–meaning that weapons will now flow unimpeded from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to its Muslim Brotherhood subsidiary (Hamas) in Gaza. At 9:40 pm, the IDF announced that an Iron Dome battery will be deployed in Eilat. At 11:07 pm, it was reported that a terrorist had infiltrated the Jerusalem area and police issued a terror alert. At 11:09, Palestinian terrorists threw four Molotov cocktails at Israeli motorists near Azzun.
It was a story last Saturday night and Sunday that has become commonplace in recent years.
Policemen arrived in the middle of the night, dragged the men of a 120 family clan out of their homes, beat them, and then carted them off to jail.
By Sunday morning the bulldozers had arrived. With no regard whatsoever for the women and children inside the homes, the bulldozers began to destroy the concrete houses one by one. Women rushed to wake up their children and hustle them outside–and all of them stood there wailing in shock and despair as the bulldozers demolished everything they owned, eventually covering the entire area with huge clouds of dust.
By Sunday night, the men had been released from jail and whole families were sleeping in tents or in the rubble of their homes–with nowhere else to go.
The destruction of the homes of the Abu Amra clan was all the more poignant because these poor Palestinians had been refugees (in fact, they are still classified by UNRWA as refugees) since they first arrived on the 1.6 hectares of land (around 4 acres) where built their homes in 1948.
Just five months ago in early February, the same series of events played out just a few miles away. Sixty one families had their homes destroyed by government forces simply because authorities wanted to widen a road. Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) blogged about those events this way:
“The problem was that the government . . . was demanding that all 61 families move out of their homes in 3 days but the families refused saying that they had lived [there] for 63 years. But they were willing to discuss this as long as the government found housing for all of them . . .”
“This morning without any more discussion about 100 male and female police officers came to tell the families that they had 1 hour to get all their belongings out of their homes because they were going to demolish the houses. Dr. Mona and I ran down to the homes and pushed our way through the police and the onlookers and found our friend and her family. Everyone begged me to take pictures but the police made it clear that they would take away anyone’s camera if they caught them taking photos . . [the] police kept coming over and threatening Mona and me and all the men, women and children around us and shoving us with their bully clubs.
People were screaming and crying. Everyone was going into their homes and carrying out whatever they could. An old man probably around my age (70) just sat in front of his candy store staring out in disbelief.
Mona and I stayed as long as we could unable to stop what was going on, begging the government stormtroopers to stop this nightmare and let us help with some kind of negotiation to deal with the situation, at least to figure out where the families were going to stay.
But no all they did was push all of us around and give the peoples a few more minutes to get what they could out of their homes and then they started to threaten Mona and me with arrest and jail. As Mona and I ran from the scene I turned around only to see the enormous earth movers start leveling the homes…”
“It is late, Mona and I are exhausted. We have just come home from the Mosque . . . where the families are sitting women and children in one room and men in another. Some of the men have built a huge bonfire outside and are sitting and standing in front of it trying to stay warm.”
In May of 2010, another 20 homes housing more than 150 people were razed. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), these 20 homes were bulldozed “because they were built on government land.” At that time the PCHR warned that more than 180 other homes were slated for destruction.
All of which brings us back to Sunday. When contacted by the media concerning the ongoing home demolitions, Hamas government spokesman Ibrahim Radwan, Chairman of the Gaza Land Authority said there is a “backlog” of many other Palestinian homes slated for destruction–“in Rafah, northern Gaza, western Gaza, and other places.”
He went on to say that Hamas–did I forget to mention that it is Hamas bulldozing all these homes at the beginning of this blog?—is determined to stop “illegal land grabbing and squatting”–even if such grabbing and squatting has been going on since 1948. And they are Hamas “stormtroopers” that are beating up Palestinians with clubs and throwing them out in the rubble.
The next time you hear about Israelis bulldozing homes, remember that the only homes that Israel is bulldozing are Jewish ones in Judea and Samaria—and that it is Hamas that is systematically destroying Palestinian homes. If you have time today, take 2 minutes to watch the following Al-Jazeera clip on youtube (click here).
Your humble servant would like to acknowledge the following sources for this blog (Agence Press France, Ma’an News, the Jerusalem Post, Al-Jazeera, and MECA).
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