Malak Shawamreh, outside her destroyed home
The other night the Israelis demolished all structures in a Bedouin community outside Anata in the occupied West Bank. The Shawamreh house in that community has been demolished five times by the Israelis.
Pictured is Malak Shawamreh, age 5, daughter of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh. Salim works for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). The house is named after his wife. See the rest of Ryan Rodrick Beiler’s shots of the destroyed/ethnically-targeted community of Anata here.
Here is the ICAHD report on the incident:
Israeli authorities demolished Beit Arabiya (“Arabiya’s House”) last night (Monday, January 23rd) for the fifth time, along with structures in the East Anata Bedouin compound. Beit Arabiya, Located in the West Bank town of Anata (Area C) just to the northeast of Jerusalem, is a living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice and peace.
As its name suggests, Beit Arabiya is a home belonging to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim and their seven children, a Palestinian family whose home has been demolished four times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by ICAHD’s Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, before being demolished again last night.
At around 11p.m. Monday, a bulldozer accompanied by a contingent of heavily armed Israeli soldiers appeared on the Anata hills, to promptly demolish Beit Arabiya, along with residential and agricultural structures in the nearby Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin compound. 3 family homes were demolished along with numerous animal pans, and 20 people including young children were displaced, left exposed to the harsh desert environment.
While standing in solidarity with Palestinians, ICAHD staff and activists were repeatedly threatened by Israeli soldieries. ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain was beaten and sustained minor injuries. Beit Arabiya was issued a demolition order by Israeli authorities back in 1994, following their failure to grant a building permit. It has since been demolished four times, to be rebuilt by ICAHD activists.
Following a reissue of the demolition order last Thursday, came last night’s fifth demolition. ICAHD Director, Dr. Jeff Halper, standing astride the ruins, vowed to support Salim and Arabiya in rebuilding their home. “We shall rebuild, we must rebuild forthwith, as an act of political defiance of the occupation and protracted oppression of Palestinians” said Halper.
Beit Arabiya has become a symbol of resistance to the Judaization of the Occupied West Bank and Israeli demolition policy. “ICAHD is as determined as always to rebuild the home, and endure in its struggle to bring about justice and peace” added Halper.
Salim and Arabiya, along with their neighbors and friends stood last night and watched as this tragedy unfold once again. Arabiya and Salim have dedicated their home as a center for peace in the memories of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women (an American and a Palestinian) who died resisting home demolitions in Gaza.
In the past decade ICAHD has hosted numerous visitors at Beit Arabiya, and based its annul rebuilding camp at the house, rebuilding 185 demolished Palestinian homes. Only earlier this month, ICAHD extended an invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit Beit Arabiya during her country visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory scheduled for later in the month.
“It is our hope, that while we cannot extend the same hospitality to the Special Raportueor, Prof. Raquel Rolnik will visit the ruins of Beit Arabiya, and report on the utter cruelty, and illegality of Israeli policies and practices, and that members of the international community will follow in her footsteps”. ” said ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain.