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Israeli Army Started Demolishing Jerusalem Homes

Israeli Military Started Demolishing Homes in Northwestern Jerusalem

By ISM Biddu

Saturday, June 12, 2004

[Biddu, NW Jerusalem] The Israeli military gave its first order for a house demolition in the village of Beit Surik four weeks ago. Members of surrounding communities gathered to show support for the el-Sheakhs, a family of 12 spanning four generations. The house, which Zaenb el-Sheakh and her husband built, received an Israeli license in 1985.

The demolition notice ordered that construction of the house's upper floor be reversed within seven days, claiming that it was added without proper licensing.

The family said that both floors were built simultaneously with the upper level to be given to their son following his marriage. Sami el- Sheakh is now engaged, and afraid that he and his future wife may not have a home.

"The original construction is what we have, nothing new in it...it's just the finishing [that] is new," said Sami. "It's the excuse that they have to destroy this house."

The el-Sheakhs believe that it may be their property's strategic value as the highest point in the area that is the real reason it is to be razed. The Jordanian army had a watchtower there during the 1967 war, and recent blueprints of Israel's wall show it being built over the same spot.

This is not an isolated case in the northwestern region of Jerusalem where the construction of the wall started 4 months ago. On Thursday, June 10, 2004 at 4am, the Israeli military demolished the two-storey house of 25 year-old Rami Nazih Shamasny. The young man had built the home he was planning to move in after his wedding. The house was completely destroyed by the Israeli military.

In Biddu, the family house of one of the main community leader was marked for partial destruction by the Israeli military. Based on comments by work contractors, this community activist, involved in the Popular Committee Against the Wall, believes that this destruction is a provocation and a punishment for his activism. He used to live there with his parents, his wife and his three sisters before he was forced to move out with his wife due to increasing harassment from the Israeli army. However, the rest of his family continued living in the family house. The actual marking shows that the house will be cut off from the family water well which will be eventually destroyed and that the building will be partially destroyed and surrounded by the wall.

Concerned Israelis from the nearby settlement of Mevaseret Zion have become allies with their Palestinian neighbors. Since the beginning of demonstrations against the wall in Biddu village in early March, many have been working in solidarity with local families.

The communities of villages located northwestern from Jerusalem have enjoyed support from Israelis, Palestinians, and international activists in the fight to save their home and their land. If his home is destroyed, Zaenb el-Sheakh asserted "we will bring a tent, put it here and live in it. We will do whatever it takes."

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