[News] Palestinian village fights to survive as Israel sends in bulldozers

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 6 17:43:16 EDT 2015

  Palestinian village fights to survive as Israel sends in bulldozers

Patrick O. Strickland 

6 May 2015

When hundreds of Israeli police and border patrol officers arrived in 
the village of Dahmash at 3am on 15 April, they sealed off the homes and 
forbade local residents from venturing outside. Within two hours, their 
bulldozers had torn through homes.

Eighteen members of the Assaf family, including several children, were 
left homeless. In total, five apartments in three different buildings 
were flattened.

A video <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juCH-A_RmYg&feature=youtu.be> 
of the demolition has since been posted on YouTube.

“It was very scary for the kids,” Miada Assaf, who lived one of the 
buildings, told a group of activists and journalists visiting the 
village on 2 May. “It’s very difficult for us when they come and destroy 

Residents told The Electronic Intifada that police arrived in heavy riot 
gear and fired gas bombs in the area before bringing in the bulldozers.

Home to 700 Palestinians, Dahmash is tucked between Ramle and Lydd 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/lydd>, two cities in present-day 
Israel. Although its residents carry Israeli citizenship and have in 
many cases lived in Dahmash for decades, the government claims it was 
built illegally and has slated the entire village for demolition.

Residents of Dahmash have filed an appeal against the planned demolition 
in a district court. But the Israeli police carried out the demolition 
without waiting for the court’s ruling.

Because the village is not recognized by Israel, the government does not 
provide it with basic services like electricity, running water 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/water>, sewage treatment, 
transportation and education <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/education>.

Children have to travel to Lydd and Ramle to attend school.

    “Not a democracy”

“We cannot afford to buy homes elsewhere,” Assaf said, adding that 
nearby Palestinian communities in Lydd and Ramle are already suffering 
from overcrowding and that residency restrictions, such as acceptance 
committees, effectively ban Palestinians from living in many of the 
neighboring Jewish areas.

“There is a war on us here,” said Arafat Ismail, president of Dahmash’s 
Popular Committee, a group that represents the village.

After the most recent bulldozing, there are 16 demolition orders still 
pending in the village.

Throughout the last two decades, Ismail explained, the village has 
repeatedly sought remedy in the Israeli court system, but to no avail.

“Why can [Israel] build new Jewish neighborhoods all around us,” asked 
Ismail, “but they cannot recognize our village? Dahmash is the clearest 
evidence that Israel is not a democracy with equality.”

Residents nonetheless maintain that they will stay on their land and 
continue to rebuild their homes.

    “Difficult conditions”

“Israel puts settlers <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/settlers> in 
beautiful homes on other people’s land,” said Shireen Assaf, whose home 
was demolished two weeks ago. “But we live in difficult conditions on 
our own land.”

An estimated 240 /dunams/ (60 acres) of Dahmash’s farmland is completely 
off limits to local residents, most of whom rely on agricultural work to 
make ends meet.

Ismail noted that Israel’s “policy of forced displacement has continued 
from 1948 until today.”

Dahmash is not an isolated case. According to Ismail, there are 16,000 
pending demolition orders on homes in Palestinian communities across 
present-day Israel, not including the dozens of unrecognized communities 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/unrecognized-villages> in the Naqab 
(Negev) <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/negev-naqab> region.

In the Naqab desert area, more than 50,000 Palestinian Bedouin 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bedouins> citizens of Israel live in 
approximately 40 unrecognized communities where home demolitions are 

A five minutes’ drive down the road from Dahmash, al-Rabat neighborhood, 
which sits on the outskirts of Ramle, faces a similar fate. “We’ve been 
living here since the days of the British occupation,” said Sheikh 
Masood Abu Muammar, referring to the period between 1917 and 1948.

Israel has placed demolition orders on the homes of 13 families in 
al-Rabat and the entire neighborhood is considered “illegal” by the 

Sheikh Muammar’s home is among those scheduled to be bulldozed. “I tried 
to get a permit,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “I filled out all the 
forms and went to the municipality [in Ramle]. Eventually they told me 
there is no hope.”

Much like in Dahmash, al-Rabat’s residents are deprived of basic 
services, although they pay taxes to the Israeli-controlled municipality 
in Ramle.

Meanwhile, in the Galilee <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/galilee> 
region of present-day Israel, police flattened 
a Palestinian home in Kufr Kana 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/kufr-kana> village last month.

And on 20 April, bulldozers plowed through 
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=760585> al-Araqib 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/al-araqib>, an unrecognized 
Palestinian village in the Naqab. The village has been destroyed 83 
times since 2010.

An estimated 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship. 
According to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority 
Rights in Israel, they face dozens of discriminatory laws 
<http://www.adalah.org/en/law/index> that stifle their political 
expression and limit their access to state resources, particularly land.

    “We want to escalate our struggle”

In response to the recent uptick in home demolitions, Palestinians in 
Israel have pushed back by launching strikes and holding protests. On 28 
April, the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel 
held a general strike 

That same night, thousands assembled in Tel Aviv 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/tel-aviv> to protest 
home demolitions.

In Wadi Ara <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/wadi-ara>, a Palestinian 
village in the Galilee, protesters came out on 25 April and called for 
Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes, the Arabic-language 
website /Arab48/ reported 
<http://www.arab48.com/?mod=articles&ID=1156570> at the time.

That same day in Qalansaweh and Taybeh, villages in the central Triangle 
region, dozens demonstrated 
<http://www.arab48.com/?mod=articles&ID=1156570> and decried Israel’s 
policy of home demolitions and land confiscation.

Newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/benjamin-netanyahu> is expected 
to finalize agreements to form a right-wing coalition in Israel’s 
parliament, the Knesset, this week.

Basel Ghattas <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/basel-ghattas>, a 
Knesset member from Balad <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/balad>, 
which belongs to the Joint List 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/joint-list> of mainly Arab political 
parties, expects the coming government to continue to target Palestinian 
citizens of Israel with new discriminatory legislation.

“This government is even more radical than the previous one,” he told 
The Electronic Intifada, “and we don’t see any checks and balances 
within the Knesset that can put the brakes on the racist laws.”

Explaining that home demolitions will further anger Palestinians in 
Israel, Ghattas said, “It was clear during the last demonstration in Tel 
Aviv that we want to escalate our struggle against any further home 

Back in Dahmash, Arafat Ismail called for people across Israel to fight 
the destruction of Palestinian homes. “If Dahmash survives, it could set 
a precedent for other areas going through the same struggle,” he said.

/Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and regular 
contributor to The Electronic Intifada. His website is 
www.postrickland.com <http://www.postrickland.com>. Twitter: 
@P_Strickland_ <https://twitter.com/P_Strickland_>./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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