That morning we went to listen to a presentation & tour by ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions).
ICAHD is an Israeli group lead by Jeff Halper who works for the rights of the Palestinian people in keeping their homes from being demolished. When a demolition is ordered the volunteers go to the home & try to convince the military to leave. They have a huge job as there are home demolitions of the Palestinians every day. A year ago in an area just at the base of the Mount of Olives which is in East Jerusalem a group of Israeli settlers came last year & took over several homes. Then the military demolished the homes. The Palestinian home owners then put up tents. This past summer they tents were demolished and barbed wire was put up so the owners could not come on their own land. These people are now living on the sidewalk. Just last evening, October 23, 2009, the Israeli settlers from the same settlement which was erected illegally went to another home in same area & took over another home. There were 6 injuries and 7 arrests of Palestinians. The seven are now in prison so they are no longer at their home. The illegal Law of Absenteeism made by the Israeli’s will be enacted. If there is no one living in the home the state will claim the land & then give it the settlers. These prisoners will be imprisoned for a long time. Palestinians are not allowed to defend themselves against the settlers or the military. This is just one of many & it occurs every day. When a home has a demolition ordered it can occur at any time. At of today there are 1064 homes in East Jerusalem & the West Bank on the demolition list. The home owner has to pay the bill to the Israel Civil Administration Agency to have their home demolished & the rubble removed. The home may have been in the family for generations but unless they have applied for and been given a permit for that home on their own land it can be demolished. Each time they apply for a building permit or a permit to keep the existing home it cost them $10,000 & it is usually denied. The reasons given for denial & demolitions are; the bypass roads built for the settlers is too close their home or land, their homes are inside the “Master Plan”, their homes or land is too close a settlement, or their land/home is too close the “separation wall”. The military will come to an area in the West Bank declare it a closed “military zone” or a “green zone” and evacuate the owners of the land. They would be arrested it they come on their land again. Later the state will then give the land for an Israeli settlement expansion or a new one. It is heart breaking and makes you very angry to see these people lose their land for which they have proper documentation with government stamps. This land may have been in the family for many generations but the Israeli government will not honor it.
We left following this tour for the CPT Hebron apartment where we stayed one night. We had hopes of getting a shower but because of the severe draught & water shortage we were not permitted to shower.