“All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms”
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights
While the vast destruction in Gaza seems to be on hold, the incremental destruction of Palestine continues apace. Just the last few days have seen a large number of demolitions in Israel and East Jerusalem. On 5 December an entire Bedouin village, Abu Twail, was demolished in the Negev, plus one house in A-Tur and a business in Ras Al Amud. Then on 6 December, the top floor of a house in Jerusalem’s Old City was destroyed. Each of these 20 buildings was demolished for lack of a building license. Our colleagues at the Regional Coalition of the Unrecognized Villages have written a narrative about the plight of Abu Twail that is posted on ICAHD’s homepage.
In A-Tur, the house of Radir Abu Ghalia and six of his family members was almost entirely demolished despite an order from the Local Court that would have stopped the demolition, had the municipal officials at the site waited a few minutes for it to arrive. They did not, despite hearing from the family that the order that would have saved their house was granted and en route. This is a common occurrence, demolitions against Israeli law, as though the law itself wasn’t bad enough. In fact, the demolitions in A-Tur, Ras Al Amud and the Old City all were demolished against the law. In its quest for a Jewish demographic majority inside the municipality of Jerusalem (including the illegally annexed East Jerusalem), the authorities will do everything possible to demolish the living space of the Palestinians in the city. For the authorities, there’s just about nothing more terrifying than the quickly growing Palestinian population. It will only be a matter of time, Palestinians are currently 44% of the 1-yr-olds in Jerusalem, until there is an Arab majority inside the city, and perhaps an Arab mayor in the capital of the Jewish state. Bald racism from the government deems this an unacceptable future so the city takes extreme measures through zoning and planning to encourage Palestinians to move away, even violating its own laws to do so.
The policy does not describe the devastation wreaked upon the victims. The Abu Ghalia family is homeless, and the family of Fayez Al-Razen is cramped into a space far too small for the group. The Al-Razen family fits some 50 people into their two-story house on As Silsileh St. inside of Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. On 5 December, Fayez had just finished construction on a new third story when he received a demolition order. He hired a lawyer to take the case to court and the next day the municipality showed up to correct his desire for adequate shelter. His lawyer was able to get an order from the Local Court but by the time the lawyer reached to site the top floor was already ruined.
The UN Security Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Al-Haq, HaMoked, the US State Department and countless other bodies have found the demolition of houses (not to mention the other crimes of the Occupation), to be in flagrant contradiction of international law, and human rights. These recent demolitions and many others previously show a total disregard for Israeli, and even more importantly, international law, and should be in our minds today, on Human Rights Day. As Israel imposes these measures and other Apartheid conditions upon the Palestinians, the real question is what are we, all of us, doing about it?