“THE OCCUPATION ON OUR HEADS”
A PALESTINIAN FAMILY’S STRUGGLE FOR A HOME
Since 1967, some 27,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories. Many were demolished in military operations, simply for being in the way or tanks or artillery fire (8000 homes were destroyed in the 2008 invasion of Gaza, almost all as “collateral damage”). Others are destroyed as acts of “deterrence,” collective punishment against families or whole communities (as in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002). Yet others, like the family’s whose story is told below, by the Civil Administration in the West Bank or by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Interior in East Jerusalem, because the homes were built “illegally” without a permit. In virtually every case the demolition had nothing whatsoever to do with security: no one in the family had committed a security offense and no one was charged. Israel’s policy of house demolitions is perhaps the clearest example of a pro-active policy to remove the Palestinian population from its lands so as to expand Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley.
Over the past two decades, Israel has engaged in a policy of forcing Palestinians out of Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control where its settlements are located, and confining them to the tiny islands of Areas A and B – and to the cage which is Gaza. Today, with only 5% of the Palestinians left in Area C, Israel is poised to annex that territory, thereby creating a permanent regime of apartheid. The policy of house demolitions is key to driving the Palestinians out of Area C. The saga of the Shawamreh family’s struggle to keep their home in Area C epitomizes non-violent Palestinian resistance to warehousing.