Palestinian Family Faces Home Demolition
- Facing demolition and expulsion: The Samarra family of Brukim
The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
July 3rd, 2005
"My name is Mohammed Abed El- Hafeth Samarra. I am 27 years old and
live in Brukim, a small village to the west of Salfit district. I have
two children; Abed El-Hafeth and Salma. I left school when I was 13
because of the bad situation that my family faced. I became an
apprentice in construction with a professional builder in the village.
I worked from the morning in to the evening for 20 Shekels a day. I
persevered with the work wishing that my children would not have to
work under such condition. After 6 months I was able to work alone and
I worked in the 1948 areas. What I can earn there is maybe five times
what I can earn in my village in the West Bank."
Mohammed faced many difficulties during this time. The Occupation
Forces beat him badly on many occasions and arbitrary closures
prevented him from getting to work. Nevertheless, he continued to work
when he could and save money to earn money for his family and future.
Above: Salma and Abed el-hafeth outside the family home.
Above: This is the garden of the Samarra family - Mohammed spent
several years building it.
"In 2000 I was able to get married and buy land to build a house. My
wife and I lived in one room of my parent's house while I earned
enough money to build our home. We used that one room for everything,
a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. It wasn't big enough, but what could
I do? I continued to work in the 48 areas, despite the conditions,
because I also had two children to look after, Abed and Salma."
During this time the second Intifada began and working in the 1948
areas became impossible. I used the money that I had saved, as well as
some my parents gave me, to start building the house, but it wasn't
enough. I found a way to enter the 1948 areas illegally, and began
staying for two or three periods. Although I tried to avoid the
soldiers, they caught me on one occasion. I was detained for 24 hours
and had to sign a document promising not to try and leave the West
Staying at home, with nothing to do, was extremely difficult for him.
Work on his house stopped due to the lack of money, and he couldn't
provide the basics for his wife or his children. "The situation became
so intolerable that I risked going back to the 1948 areas to work. I
managed to enter and this time I stayed for periods from anywhere
between 2 and 6 months, saving every Shekel that I earned. Each new
brick of my home gave me the strength and courage I needed to
re-enter, but in February 2005 I was arrested again. This time I was
imprisoned for 40 days and also had to pay a 2000 Shekel fine. Since I
was released, I have stayed in the West Bank. I am getting so
frustrated being at home all the time. Every now and then I find work,
but it is low paid (about 50 Shekels) and infrequent. Life has become
very difficult for me, and my family."
By winter 2004 the house was nearly complete. They were so happy. The
house cost 150,000 NIS and had 3 bedrooms, living room, bathroom,
kitchen and also a balcony. It also had a well, so they would always
have easy access to water. He began seeing soldiers taking pictures of
the house and was really confused. "I thought that they were
photographing my house because it had a prime location on the mountain
at north west of the village and illustrated the whole area well. I
thought they were taking pictures of the beautiful area and was
shocked to discover that they intended to demolish the house."
"Initially I thought that the papers I found by the front door were
accidentally dropped by a soldier. They were written in Hebrew and I
couldn't understand anything. But then I saw the small print in
Arabic. It explained that these papers were demolition orders for my
house and the land upon which it stood. I wanted to tear the paper up,
or throw it away as I refused to believe that the demolition order was
really for me. But what if it was for me? What should I tell my wife?
She had been planning for the move, and was looking forward to
decorating the house and making it our home. What should I say to my
children? They were so excited whenever they visited, and laughed and
played in the garden. Was I to tell them that no one cared about all
the hard work that we had done? That everything that we had worked for
over the last few years was lost?"
Above: The Samarra family at home.
The leader of the municipality advised him to consult a lawyer, which
he did immediately. Occupation officials informed his lawyer that
Mohammad didn't have permission to build the house, and that was why
it was being demolished. He produced all the correct documentation,
showing that he had permission from the relevant authorities. At this
point the Occupation officials argued that since the house was located
on the border of the Ariel settlement, which was going to be expanded,
the house was being demolished. After this, the lawyer was told that
the house was on a proposed military road and then finally, they
explained that the land was being taken to make way for the Wall.
"My family and I have stayed in our home. We still don't know what our
future will be. Two or three times a week Occupation Forces come to
photograph the house and the changes we have made. When I ask what
will happen to us and our home, they tell me it is none of my
business. I don't know what I will do if they confiscate our home."
In total 3 houses in Brukim are set to be demolished for the Apartheid
Wall. Another 13 also look set for demolition by the Occupation Forces
who have told villagers that they do not have the correct papers.
Photo: Brukim: Some of the houses to be demolished by the Occupation
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