Image: Home demolition in Silwan, ocuppied East Jerusalem. Ma’an News Agency
In comparison to the month of August, September 2017 saw a slight decrease on the average number of weekly demolitions of Palestinian homes and business across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and within Israel itself. While appearing to be a positive change, this decrease is likely due to the Jewish holiday season taking place throughout September, and as with previous holiday seasons, demolitions and displacements of Palestinians will sadly likely increase at the end of the holiday season.
On September 11th, parts of a Palestinian cemetery in occupied East Jerusalem were demolished. Reports state the western part of the al-Shuhada cemetery was demolished in order to build an Israeli national park. Only the following day, on September 12th, two demolitions of Bedouin homes and property took place in the Negev. These included the demolition of one family home in Mūladaʾh, and the demolition of a sheep pen in the village of Umm Batin. Bedouins living in the Negev have suffered greatly in recent years at the hands of the Israeli state, as frequent demolitions and harassment campaigns seek to remove them from their ancestral land in order to expand surrounding illegal Israeli settlements and military training zones.
On September 13th Israeli forces brought great suffering to Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, with a home demolition in the neighbourhood of Silwan, which left eight Palestinians, including four children, homeless. A further demolition took place on the same day in the neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud, leaving another family without a home. The next day on September 14th two demolitions took place, one in Umm Gabu, near Bee’r Sheva within Israeli borders, where a home was demolished for the 8th time. Additionally, Al-Araqib was demolished once more, marking more than 115 demolitions since 2010.
Palestinians living the West Bank also faced the abuse of the Israeli state this September, with a demolition of a large residential building in the village of al-Zayyem, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, on September 18th. Despite being in Area B, and supposedly under Palestinian Civil Administration control, the Israeli state refused to issue building permits, and cited this as the cause of the demolition. This method is commonly used by the Israeli state to justify demolitions, despite Israeli building permits being near impossible for Palestinians to obtain. A final demolition for this month took place in Beit Hanina, occupied East Jerusalem, on September 19th, with the destruction of a family-owned carwash, and the only source of income for the Badr family. Once again, the Israeli state justified the demolition under the guise of unauthorised construction.
However, amongst all the destruction and pain caused by the Israeli state this month with their continued assault on the Palestinian people, some good news emerged with the rebuilding of a demolished school in Jub El-Thib, east of Bethlehem. Following the demolition of the school a number of weeks ago, just as class was due to begin, volunteers worked tirelessly over night to rebuild the school which was initially paid for by the European Union, and whose destruction generated worldwide condemnation against Israel. As the school was rebuilt using bricks instead of metal sheets, some legal protection is now in place to prevent a further demolition in the upcoming weeks.