Posted on July 22, 2019, by & filed under East Jerusalem, News.

Ismail and his sons after they were dragged away from their home

I am devastated. I spent the night in Sur Baher. I've seen with my owמ eyes how they demolished Ismail's home/ A gentle man with kind eyes/ He planned every single detail in the house. "My dream home," he said to me at 3am, before the disaster, and his leg was shaking. He kept saying "I wish it will not happen, I wish they will not demolish.

The kitchen cabinets are bright pink, in the style he likes, that he chose. The walls in his 4 year old daughter's room are acoustic, isolating it from noise, they do not heat in the summer. He sent her off to sleep at her granddad's. The rest of the children are home. Everybody is awake. Terrified lest the monster arrives.

His voice was shaking when he spoke of his children/ He didn't look me in the eye/ He didn't look me in the eye/ He kept repeating one sentence: I want to speak to the judge who allowed this. Help me get to this judge. I just want to reason with him, I want him to see me, to understand that he can't just throw us into the streets. When he said he feels he failed as a father, that he can't defend his children, tears filled his eyes.

And then Israel demolished his home/ Colonial, Judaizing Israel, of which I am ashamed to be a citizen. Dozens of policeman broke in/ I was there. I have seen the rage and the humiliation that filled his eyes and his children's eyes when they were pushed away by the police and watched their home from afar, knowing it is about to be destroyed. The children cried in pain/ I shivered/ Their eyes reddened because of the tear gas.

Ismail's whole body shook/ He cried, he hugged them and cried. He has no money, ha had put all his savings in this. The sun started rising and the policeman shouted at us to back off, to leave/ The violence was horrific/ The police dragged everybody out, strangled the family members/ I looked for their eyes. One of their phones started ringing and it was a popular happy song. I sometimes listen to it too.

The house was built in Zone A, under Palestinian Authority control, but Israel, in order to keep plots of land close to the wall (80% of which cuts beyond the Green Line) locked it in the "Israeli side", blocking PA access to it/ Therefore, the inhabitants are in a limbo. They need to provide their own services – water, electricity, roads. Israel provides nothing, but knows how to demolish their houses at her will.

Ismail had built his home legally. Completely legally. He received all the permits needed from the PA. But Israel decided that the house is too close to the wall it decided to build, so it needs to be crushed. "A security matter", they say. Houses must not be adjacent to the wall.

But the wall is a lame excuse/ It is clear to everybody in the village that there is no difficulty in crossing the wall. Tens of thousands of Palestinians do it every day. Whoever wants to cross it and hide in one of the houses can do so within a second anyway.

Furthermore, there are similar houses in Tsur Baher that had only one of their two floors demolished, which contradicts the "security" argument. Is a two story house more dangerous that a bungalow? And even if there is a security related reason, it makes no sense to demolish a home when there are other options. Ismail begged and pleaded to be allowed to guard the home himself, to be allowed to install CCTV near the house, or work with his sons to add height to the wall, so that nobody could cross in. This plea was shocking.

No, don't get this wrong. This is not about security/ Tonight I was a witness of the way in which we are Judaizing the land. We are Judaizing this land. Anybody who does not understand those words – Judaizing the land – should start checking themselves, and start reading. Read about what is happening between the River and the Sea, in East Jerusalem, in the Negev-Naqab, in the Galilee, in the West Bank. Read about discriminating planning which chokes whole Palestinian communities and block their expansion, about land confiscation, about villages in the Negev getting demolished and Jewish towns built in their stead. Read about the expulsions in the Jordan Valley and South Mount Hebron, about the ongoing Nakba all across the area.

If you really want help in coming out of your ignorance, talk to me, I will help you. If you really care about security for Israelis, let's make sure there is security for Palestinians too. Let's stop destroying their lives and expelling them out of their own homes and their own land.

I cannot bear this anymore. I am strangled by this violence and the lives that it destroys. And everybody here keep[s quiet and drill over and over about a Jewish State, and they don't speak Arabic, and them don't care about anybody else.

Tonight they destroyed Ismail's life. When In left, an hour ago, he stared vacantly into space and mumbled to himself. The light in his eyes was gone.