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Palestinian Family Faces Home Demolition

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    Facing demolition and expulsion: The Samarra family of Brukim The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign July 3rd, 2005
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2005
      Facing demolition and expulsion: The Samarra family of Brukim

      The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
      July 3rd, 2005

      Community Voices

      "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
      Bank again.

      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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