Expelling Palestinians and demolishing their homes

16 Sep

Jonathon Cook’s article, entitled, ‘Jaffa ‘renewal plan’ aims at eviction’ in The National or ‘Unfinished Business of Ethnic Cleansing, The Expulsion of Palestinians from Jaffa’ in Counterpunch is a grim remainder of the continuing illegal Israeli state policies committed against Palestinians.

From his reporting, it is easily discerned that the discrimination Palestinians are facing everyday is carried out systematically – to strip them of their residency and force them to move, ‘

In the meantime, Jaffa’s properties were either demolished or redistributed to new Jewish immigrants. The heart of old Jaffa, next to the port, was developed as a touristic playground, with palatial Palestinian homes turned into exclusive restaurants and art galleries run by Jewish entrepreneurs.

… Over the past 18 months, it has issued 497 eviction orders against Ajami [the Palestinian district of Jaffa] families, threatening to make 3,000 people homeless.’

The expulsion of Palestinians from Jaffa can be traced back to 1948 when Israel invaded what was once Palestine’s ancient port town. As many as 95 percent of the original Palestinian residents were forced to fled the area due to intense shelling and sniping (Makdisi 2008, p. 234).

In the article, the journalist also pointed out that the Arab areas are deliberately left out of municipal planning and renewal processes. Applications to build new properties and altering existing buildings are also denied. These measures are applied in the Occupied Territories, thereby leaving Palestinians, with no choice, except to engage in illegal construction.

Contrast this with the privileged status given to Jewish families (and some of them, not even Israeli citizens, but merely Jewish people with the ‘right of return’, as defined by the Israeli state) who moved into heavily government sponsored West Bank settlements.

In Saree Makdisi’s book, ‘Palestine, Inside Out, An Everyday Occupation’, these settlers are,’eligible for a generous package of benefits and tax breaks provided by six government ministries’ (p. 125).

The building of these illegal settlements meant that a concurrent strategy of expulsion of Palestinians is needed to maintain a Jewish majority. Such ends are achieved by violating international laws such as stripping Palestinians of their residency, preventing family re-unification or demolishing their homes.

The figures speak for themselves. More than 150 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem were destroyed in 2004 with about 9000 existing Palestinian homes (that are illegally built in Jerusalem) awaiting and at risk of the same fate (Makdisi 2008, p. 107).

Other notable figures cited (Makdisi 2008, p. 111) :

Number of Palestinian homes demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem from 2004 – 7: 305

Number of West Bank homes demolished for being built without permit in 2006: 44

Number of homes in occupied territories demolished for being built without permit, to 2007: 2200

Number of Palestinian homes demolished by Israel as punishment, 2000- 5: 668

Number of Gaza homes demolished by Israel, 2000-4: 2,540

Number of Palestinian homes demolished by Israel since 1967: 18,000

Number of Palestinians stripped of Jerusalem residency, 1967- 2006: 8269

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