“They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellow-man of his inheritance.” (Micah 2:2)
Today we were accompanied by Angela who works with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition. We visited 3 different communities and heard the stories of demolition of homes and displacement of ordinary Palestinians. 24,000 buildings have been demolished by Israeli authorities since 1948. ‘Abu Silman’ said, “The plan is to take Palestinians out of East Jerusalem and let them vanish”. Yesterday we traced the route by which Jesus was taken 2000 years ago from Gethsemane to Golgotha. I believe, today we travelled through the route perhaps Jesus would taken if he walked through East Jerusalem
We visited Bustan Centre (a protest tent) of a Palestinian community in Silwan in Kidron valley. The area is squeezed by Jewish Settlements overlooking it and a section is marked off as an archaeological site, which is an excuse to seize land and eventually build on it. Here, 88 homes in the area have been served with the demolition notice since 2005. We saw rubble from a demolished home.
While the leader was still speaking, we were overwhelmed by 100 children who arrived in the tent. They sang in Arabic. The words were,
‘Be patient about our sufferings.
We go on living in our homes, not matter what happens.
They demolish our home; we shall build them again.
If they arrest us, eventually we shall be released; we shall come back and build our home.”
Everything, including identity and home are taken away from these communities. The only thing they have is ‘hope’. They are not prepared to give it up.
Our second main stop was a Peace Centre. This was the home of Salim and Arebiya. Having his home demolished three times, the place has now been turned into a peace centre. The trauma the family had gone through is beyond words. A poster in the centre read ‘demolition of a home is a demolition of a family.’ Arebiya cooked delicious lunch for us and another large group of mainly young people from Israel and Europe.
From the peace centre we went on to visit Bedouin in the Ma’ale Adummim area. The people moved there since they were forced out from their previous habitat in 1948. They have eviction notices but they have no place to move to. They are determined to build a school for their children. Support from the International Community would be of great help to them.
Angela repeated what a group of Palestinian women once expressed:
We (Palestinians) live in dreams;
They (Israelites) live in denial;
One day we all shall live in reality.