145 Oxford Street, Totterdown, Bristol, BS3 4RH
2 December 2004
Dawn Primarolo, M.P.
House of Commons
Copies to ICHAD, Bristol PSC, and to members of November 2003 Study tour to Palestine.
Dear Dawn Primarolo
On Tuesday I returned from Palestine after three weeks working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and its partners the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and International Middle East Media Committee (IMEMC.ORG) and also Rabbis for Human rights (tho I am a Quaker). Many ISM and ICAHD are brave Jews. I met some from Israel, USA, Italy, Sweden, South Korea, Ireland and the UK.
I also met many "E.A.s" Ecumenical Accompaniers, administered from the UK by Quakers. They included several Christian denominations and were from Denmark, South Africa, Denmark, and the UK.
With some difficulty I visited two West Bank villages being strangled by the Separation Wall and other Israeli expansion.
I stayed at the ABDAA hostel in Bethlehem. IBDAA is mentioned below having been bombed by the IDF yesterday.
I hope you understand and accept that Israel’s policy in Palestine is not based on security. This is only a convenient excuse. Their aim is the ethnic cleansing of the Arab population, except for a few tightly ringed ghettos.
I hope you realise that though about a third to a half of Israeli citizens do not support this policy, Zionists control their Government.
More importantly, Christian Fundamentalists, i.e. Christian Zionists, influence USA policy wrt Israel. This crazy fanatic fascist ideology seeks the expulsion of all non-Jews from ‘greater Israel’.
For instance note that 95% of house demolitions (14,000) are not claimed to be for security nor as collective punishment but simply for expansion of Israeli Settlements and associated infrastructure.
Some "settlements" are new cities; for instance one is zoned to cover all the land from Jerusalem to Jericho. Any Arab property new or old in this vast area is due to be demolished.
I travelled extensively in the West Bank. I was frequently delayed by the roadblocks and checkpoints and the resultant disruption of public transport. But with my UK passport I was never detained. However most Palestinian men are simply not allowed to proceed. This is not for security, as all parties know that they can circumnavigate the checkpoints, often within sight of the IDF. The purpose is harassment and economic strangulation.
Within our country’s practical sphere of influence the situation in Palestine is by far the worse example of injustice and brutality since the holocaust. Thousands of Palestinians have been driven from their homes into refugee camps. Thousands have been killed. The trauma of seeing one’s home or kindergarten demolished, at 15 minutes’ notice, is incalculable.
Our country is in part responsible for this dreadful situation and our government must work energetically and effectively to alleviate it.
I ask you as a member of the New Labour government to press for the UK to work for justice in Palestine with the same degree of commitment shown in support of American policy in Iraq.
Below three news items from the past day or two.
From: Angela Godfrey
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 7:16 PM
Subject: Report and Press Release: Jerusalem Home Demolitions Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Yesterday a 3-storey home housing four families (23 souls) was demolished in Anata, plus one housing 12 souls (2 families), in Area C of Anata (which sprawls Jerusalem, Area B and Area C). The Civil Administration (a.k.a. The Army) never gives building permits to Palestinian landowners in Area C. Thus house demolitions, whether due to the Wall, settlement expansion, roads, army bases, settlement industrial estates, etc. are justified on grounds that houses were illegally built.
Ditto East Jerusalem, where building licences are not given. [Further details: www.icahd.org "The Matrix of Control" or Jeff Halper's Book "Obstacles to Peace - Reframing the Conflict"]
Today a 4-storey building was demolished in Beit Hanina. Meir Margalit (0544-345503), co-ordinator (with Prof. Halper) of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), and former opposition leader of Jerusalem City Council, went to Court today and halted until January 15th demolition of Jibril Daul's house. Jibril (0522-596370) who speaks English - is a sick man, after a heart attack; there is serious risk his heart will not cope with demolition of his home. Without exaggeration, his life is at risk, not just his home and life savings. Yesterday's demolition destroyed the fruit of 20 years' work of owners of the 3-storey house, leaving them penniless. Since 1967, 14,000 such cases have been recorded, which have no connection to "security". This policy echoes demolition in the 50s of 428 Palestinian villages so refugees could not return home.
Tomorrow, Shabani home in Beit Hanina, Tel al Ful (at Beit Hussein - landmark unfinished palace abreast the hill - see photography exhibit at Adniel Gallery, New Gate) is slated for demolition -- details from Meir Margalit [phone as above] TOMORROW -- under inequitable planning laws which set out to judaise (ethnically cleanse) East Jerusalem.
Beit Hanina is in Jerusalem Municipality, over the 67 Armistice/Green Line (Occupied East Jerusalem), relentlessly being choked by Israeli developments: the Western bypass road (45) on its west, Wall at its north, which is now erasing the main road to Ramallah plus Road 60, Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov settlements to its east. The choking and transfer of the largest middleclass Palestinian group between Jerusalem / Ramallah is part of Israeli policy to fight demography and grab land, as elsewhere in Jerusalem.
The Bush-Sharon Letter of Understanding in April, ratified by Congress, puts a seal of approval on Greater Jerusalem (passed into Israeli law last month), annexing all main settlement blocs - Ariel, Givat Ze'ev, Ma'ale Adumim and Gush Etzion - into Israel, and off any future negotiating table. Thus, especially if E1 continues to be developed (e.g. the new prison, e.g. Ma'ale Adumim), plus all new Jerusalem settlements now being progressed, despite/to spite the Road Map (Nof Zion, Kidmat Zion, City of David, Beit Orot, Ma'ale Zeitim, Shimon HaZadik, Rachel's Tomb, etc.) the Road Map cannot deliver VIABILITY and is therefore a bankrupt, non-starter, rigged game. Tony Blair's statement to Bush, albeit years of lobbying as to viability finally found public expression closes the door after the horse has bolted. Whilst houses continue to be demolished, Palestinians are being moved off their land into bantustans which Israel will happily call Palestine, with no concession to viability.
Whilst houses continue to be demolished, Israel continues to build settlements (Ma'ale Adumim increasing 50% by next year to 45,000). Come tomorrow to see more Zionist Caterpillars redeem the land. So that more Palestinians will understand the message of the bulldozers: This is not your home. Go. Leave. Whether it be to the ghetto of Ramallah, the ghetto of Bethlehem. Jordan as Palestine.
Jerusalem as a purely Jewish city cannot be holy. The Holy Land is thus being buried in cement or rubble. Apartheid rules. The bulldozer rules. Halleluia.
Hamash Family Home and Ibdaa Kindergarten Demolished Dear Friends,
Last night I received the terrible news that the Israeli Army entered Dheisheh refugee camp and demolished a building that was home to the Hamash family and Ibdaa Cultural Center's kindergarten. Zaid Hamash was one of the Ibdaa youth dancers that performed in United States in tours that MECA sponsored in 1999 and 2003. Zaid is now studying at Bard College in New York. Both his family and his uncle's family lost their homes last night. As you know, MECA has worked closely with Ibdaa Cultural Center for many years. We have developed close bonds with the young people of Ibdaa, their families, and the community. We have supported the women's embroidery cooperative, the sports teams, and the health committee. At this point it is not clear where the kindergarten will be housed, but we will keep you informed. Below is an account of the incident by Ziad Abbas, co-director of Ibdaa. Barbara Lubin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bombs at Dawn by Ziad Abbas At quarter to four this morning the Hamash family building was bombed by the Israeli Army.
At least 12 Israeli army jeeps invaded Dheisheh refugee camp and surrounded the families' homes, as well as Ibdaa Cultural Center's kindergarten which shares the same building. The Army ordered Musa Hamash, Aziz Hamash, and Ahmed Hamash and their families outside into the damp and chilly morning air. They were given 30 minutes to remove as many of their belongings as possible before the bombing. Not only was this not enough time, but the presence of Army jeeps blocking each of the nearby narrow streets made it even more difficult for them to save some family memories and some meager possessions. The soldiers told them they were there only to bomb the 2 flats of Ahmed and Musa.
Musafs son, Mahmud, was recently sentenced to 50 months in jail and his other son, Mahammad, is currently awaiting trial. Mahmud was arrested over 2 years ago and Mahammad over 1 year ago. They both left behind young children and babies who until this morning lived in these flats. The Army ordered the families to leave and began setting explosives throughout the homes. When bombed, the two flats were destroyed and the entire building was significantly affected, including Ibdaa's kindergarten. Structurally the building is not safe.
The sight of children's books and paintings were mixed with the rubble in the streets and the Hamash families became refugees once again. They are without homes and are distributed around the camp, seeking shelter from neighbors. Their building contained a total of eight flats, 3 belonging to Musa and 5 to Aziz, who rented the first 2 floors to Ibdaa Cultural Center for its kindergarten. One hundred and twenty children, aged 3-6 years old, have learned, played, danced, sung and been safe within those walls for the past 4 years. Today these children of Dheisheh will not go to kindergarten for lessons. In just a few hours they will learn a new lesson instead: The Hamash homes were bombed and with it their haven. Even the UN schools will not teach lessons as great as the one the Army gave all of the children today when the massive explosion rocked the entire camp. No, today there will be no music, mathematics, science or history lessons. Teachers will not teach lessons to any of us. Today, the Israeli Army is educating us about how to destroy homes.
For more information please visit www.dheisheh-ibdaa.net or email email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lucia Pizarro, International Coordinator (052-5216551)
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
7 Ben Yehuda Street
ICAHD VOLUNTEERS DRAGGED FROM HOUSE;
BEIT HANINA, JERUSALEM—Israeli and international volunteers occupied the one-room house of Muhammed Shabani in order to prevent its demolition by the municipality of Jerusalem accompanied by over forty Israeli police. The volunteers were asked to leave, but several ICAHD staff members and volunteers refused and were dragged out of the house by force. A Caterpillar construction crane then demolished the house in three minutes.
Muhammed Shabani, his wife, his eight children and his grandmother lived in this house for a year and half before demolition. The last order was delivered on November 24, 2004, citing a lack of permit because the family’s land is zoned "open green space" by the city master plan. The family spent an estimated $15,000 in court fees until the High Court issued a ruling supporting the demolition.
The volunteers were members of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, B’Tselem, the International Solidarity Movement as well as other Israelis and internationals.
After the demolition, Ari King, a representative of the National Unity political party, arrived to verify the house was demolished. The National Unity party states in their platform that Arabs should be expelled and transferred in favor of Jewish settlements. The party seeks to expand the settlement of Pizgat Ze’ev, just 200 meters over the hill from the Shabani family, and actively pressures the Jerusalem Municipality to demolish houses in areas of interest.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is a non-violent, direct-action organization that resists Israel's Occupation through opposing its policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. ICAHD also resists all other oppressive occupation policies "on the ground:" land expropriation, settlement expansion, policies of "closure," the destruction of Palestinian agriculture and infrastructure, construction of the "Separation Barrier" and all other attempts to prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. ICAHD works closely with Israeli, Palestinian and international peace and human rights organizations. For more information, visit www.icahd.org or call the Jerusalem office at 972-(0)2-624-5560.
Attached: Timeline of Shabani Demolition
Timeline –Shabani Family
December 1, 2004
Beit Hanina, Jersualem
7:00 am ICAHD staff and volunteers arrive at the Shabani house.
7:20 am A construction crane is sighted demolishing the top four stories of a six-story house in Beit Hanina.
8:00 am Media reporters arrive.
8:30 am A police jeep arrives at the Shabani house, presumably to deliver the demolition order. The police ask who the volunteers are and depart.
8:56 am A half-dozen police jeeps and a jackhammer-equipped Caterpillar construction crane surround the Shabani house. The ICAHD volunteers wait inside the house while others climb onto the roof.
9:12 am The commanding officer enters the house with soldiers to deliver the official demolition order to Muhammed Shabani. Everyone is given 10 minutes to leave. The Shabani family leaves the house.
9:27 am Soldiers order the volunteers to exit the house.
9:53 am Several dozen soldiers enter the house and climb the roof to physically remove the volunteers. They carry the volunteers 50 meters from the house and leave them under guard.
10:06 am Foreign laborers employed by the demolition subcontractor remove the family’s possessions from the house.
10:15 am The Caterpillar crane begins destroying the four pillars of the house.
10:18 am The walls crumble and the roof collapsed. The Caterpillar pulverizes the remaining pieces to make it unsalvageable.
10:35 am Ari King, a representative of the National Unity political party serving settler interests in expelling the Palestinian population from this hill, arrives to verify the house has been demolished.
11:24 am ICAHD volunteers depart the family after collecting money in order to help the family rent an apartment during their first night without a house.
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