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On A Day Of Blood, Who Counts 20 Demolished Houses

On A Day Of Blood, Who Counts Kafr Qasem's 20 Demolished Houses?

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/

On this day where the international networks [right now!] inform you about the bloody ongoings in Gaza, leaving at this hour already 11 Palestinians dead, including two children and a pregant woman, we must inform you what more is meanwhile happening .

Already yesterday night we heard about the Kafr Qasem demolition spree. We are in contact with Qafr Qasem activists who are considering what is the best protest action. We hereby forward you the message about it of Dorothy Naor who located it on the Ha'aretz website. She calls it "Eli Ishay’s parting gift as Minister of the Interior". But maybe, it's the new government's "message to Arab Israelis".

------- Forwarded message follows -------

From: Dorothy Naor

Subject: [New Profile] Demolitions in Kafr Qasem

Date sent: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 16:25:08 +0200

(...) From the number of demolitions and demolition orders for Arab villages, it would almost seem that the message the government is trying to send is that the government is no more concerned for the welfare of its Arab citizens than for the welfare of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Surely Arab and Jewish citizens are not equal before the law as concerns the management of the land laws in Israel. And how is it that one court issues an order for demolitions while another court has issued a stay of execution till September. This seems to have been Eli Ishay’s parting gift as Minister of the Interior. Let us see how Poraz, the new minister from the Shinui party, will treat Arab citizens. Dorothy

Ha’aretz Monday, March 03, 2003

ILA demolishes 16 illegal houses in Kafr Qasem

English
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=268363&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

By Yair Ettinger

The Israel Lands Administration yesterday demolished 16 illegal houses in Kafr Qasem as part of the government's crackdown on illegal building in Arab communities.

Kafr Qasem local council head Sami Isa complained of an acute housing shortage due to a government refusal to approve any new building plans. "People are suffocating here, what can you expect them to do? They have no alternative but to build illegally," he said.

Some 250 police, border police and mounted police backed by a large amount of riot control equipment entered the town before dawn to safeguard the demolition work. A number of residents who confronted the police and ILA inspectors were detained for questioning.

The demolished structures were under construction and two of them were inhabited already.

Although the residents have been negotiating with the authorities for several months in an attempt to reach an agreement, the police and ILA gave them no advance warning of the demolition. Eyewitnesses said one of the houses was knocked down with all its contents inside it, after its owner was arrested.

The Kafr Qasem operation follows a series of demolitions of Arab houses in the past months in the Negev, Lod, Ramle and Jaffa, on the basis of administrative or court orders. The implementation of other demolition orders, in Wadi Ara, is being held up by a court injunction.

Arab community leaders sharply denounced the demolitions and expressed concern over the government's harsh measures after a long time during which the police avoided demolitions for fear of violent clashes with the residents.

Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel, says the number of illegal structures in the Arab community reached 36,000 by the end of 2002, with an additional 30,000 in the Bedouin sector.

The land upon which the demolished houses stood in Kafr Qasem was expropriated by the state in the 1970s. An ILA spokeswoman said the demolitions were carried out in accordance with a court order. She said since the orders were issued in June 2002, ILA representatives and senior police officers have pleaded in vain with the residents to demolish the houses themselves, and vacate the inhabited ones.

The houses' owners, most of whom belong to the large Taha clan, said they have a different court ruling, issued last December by the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court after they were sued for invading lands. This decision orders them to pay fines to the local planning commission, but also rules that the houses are not to be torn down before September 2003, until which time the sides will try to reach an agreement. They said their homes were torn down while their attorneys are in the midst of negotiations with the planning authorities to reach a compromise.

Attorney Yusuf Isa, who represents the residents, said he presented the ILA and police with a copy of the verdict. "But the ILA official said `I don't want to even look at it,'" he said.

After the bulldozers left the village many residents gathered outside the local council building and shouted denunciations at council head Sami Isa, whom they accused of cooperating with the authorities.

In Kafr Qasem, there are more than 1,000 illegal houses, most of them on private land. Isa said a master plan that could alleviate the housing plight has been held up for the past two and a half years by the central region's planning commission. "In the meantime, people are stuck. What can they do? On the one hand, I disagree with the state authorities and on the other, the residents accuse me of acting against them. In this situation, it's easier for me to side with the residents and oppose any demolition. Why should I not stand by my people if I have no legal alternative?" he asked.

New Profile – Movement for the Civil-ization of Israeli Society POB 48005, Tel-Aviv 61480, Israel E-mail: mailto:newprofile@speedy.co.il Voice box: ++972-(0)3-516-01-19 Website: http://www.newprofile.org/

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