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Bedouins in E1: “I said that this was my home, that I was born here, and he told me to go to Ramallah”


February 18, 2012 - Yousef Thayafeen, 37, lives with his wife and their five children in Wa’r al Beik, an area bordering the town of Anata, a suburb of East Jerusalem cut off from the city by the separation wall. Yousef’s five siblings and their families also live in the small encampment. Late at night on 25 January, Israeli soldiers arrived, equipped with bulldozers, and informed the families they had five minutes before all six structures would be destroyed. The soldiers had brought a team to remove the entire contents of these homes. When Yousef asked the men, who had begun to throw items of furniture out on to the grass, to be more careful, one soldier hit him across the face, Yousef says, knocking him to the ground...


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Bedouins in E1: “I said that this was my home, that I was born here, and he told me to go to Ramallah”

By Sophie Crowe

February 18, 2012

Yousef Thayafeen, 37, lives with his wife and their five children in Wa’r al Beik, an area bordering the town of Anata, a suburb of East Jerusalem cut off from the city by the separation wall. Yousef’s five siblings and their families also live in the small encampment.

Late at night on 25 January, Israeli soldiers arrived, equipped with bulldozers, and informed the families they had five minutes before all six structures would be destroyed.

The soldiers had brought a team to remove the entire contents of these homes. When Yousef asked the men, who had begun to throw items of furniture out on to the grass, to be more careful, one soldier hit him across the face, Yousef says, knocking him to the ground.

"I said that this was my home, that I was born here, and he told me to go to Ramallah – to Abbas," Yousef remembers.

When the bulldozers were finished, there was nothing left of the homes, leaving the six families to sleep under the sky without shelter, amidst the rubble. Yousef’s youngest child is only eight months old.

The next day the families were given tents by the Red Cross and in the past week they have constructed a makeshift building to keep the elements out. They are determined to rebuild their homes.

This is the second time the IOF has demolished these homes. The first time was in 2004, with the standard excuse proffered by the state. These structures had been built without permits, the authorities posited.

Yousef suspects the IOF chose to demolish the shelters in winter time to make them suffer further. The tents, as temporary shelters, fail to keep out the cold and the rain.

After the previous demolition the families employed the services of an Israeli lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, who managed to get a temporary court order to protect the family from the IOF’s demolition attempts, allowing them to rebuild.

This time, however, they do not have the means to pay for legal representation.
Two days before Yousef’s family lost their homes, the IOF tore down a neighboring home, only metres away. The house, known as Beit Arabiya, is home to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim, and their seven children. This is the fifth time their home has been demolished, after a demolition order was first issued in 1994.

The Thayafeens had no problems until 2003, Yousef continues, when Israel built a military base on a nearby hilltop at eye level to the Jahalin encampment.

Soldiers soon began to harass family members while they were grazing sheep – their chief source of income – on land nearby their camp, telling them they were not allowed to use the space, which was now a closed military zone.

After the 2004 demolition, Yousef says, his father met with the head of the military base and asked him why they were targeting his family. The officer replied that the army did not like the view they had of the Bedouin homes across the valley, Yousef relates.

The family are members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, originally from the Naqab desert, in what is now southern Israel. After the war of 1948 when Israel’s Judaization process took off, the new authorities forced the Jahalin from their lands. Many, including Yousef’s family, resettled in the West Bank around 1950.
Despite this forced displacement the Bedouins were not given refugee status, so do not receive UNRWA aid.

Most now live in the area designated as "C" during the Oslo accords, where Israel has total civil and military control. The Bedouins continue to suffer from Israel’s power there, usually in the form of house demolitions and displacement.

Israel has stepped up its policy of displacement. Home demolitions across the West Bank’s area C were twice as high in 2011 as the previous year according to a December report by UNRWA.

Most of the Bedouin communities in the E1 area – between Ma’ale Adumim settlement and Jerusalem – are facing a similar fate. Israel plans to forcibly displace this population to a permanent site beside Abu Dis, which borders Jerusalem’s main rubbish dump. About 2,000 Bedouins already live there, moved by Israel in the late nineties to accommodate the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim.
Yousef points towards the base of the neighboring hilltop where several wrought iron sheds are used to house dogs used by the military. "Their dogs live in better condition than we do. This is even too much for us," he says, looking around the grim surroundings.

Source


:: Article nr. 85817 sent on 18-feb-2012 21:46 ECT

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