A video has emerged of a teary-faced young Palestinian girl screaming “where will we live?” as her family’s home was being bulldozed in front of her eyes in the south of the occupied city of Jerusalem al-Quds; a scene all too familiar to Palestinians, whose homes have been bulldozed by the Israeli regime over the past few years.
With further occupation on its mind, the Israeli regime has set its sights on over 200 Palestinian homes, planning their imminent demolition. According to the Israeli human rights group BT’Selem, this year alone, Israel demolished 58 houses and buildings in East al-Quds between January 1 and July 8, making 163 Palestinians homeless, of which 84 were minors.
Since July 8, the number has only increased, with seven homes having been destroyed this week in East al-Quds.
Just today, in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, three houses belonging to the al-Tahan family were razed by Israel forces, leaving around 20 people homeless.
Among all these incidents — although ensuing stories of heartbreak by the displaced residents are almost similar — the story of this one young girl has touched people all over the world. In the video, which has since gone viral, the young girl and her brother are seen crying and begging for the demolition to stop.
The incident took place last night in southern al-Quds as the father of the children, featured in the video, Ibrahim Abu Saba was forced to pay for the demolition of his own home. Ibrahim said in an interview with the al-Quds based news group ‘Al-Qastal’ that he was all of a sudden ordered by the local municipality to pay NIS 150,000 ($44,000) because his home had been built in an “unorganized area.”
The three-story home, built in 2001, was initially never thought by the owner to be under threat as most Palestinian homes built in al-Quds are constructed without permit. The reason for this is that Israeli authorities would make it virtually impossible for Palestinians living in the city to obtain any permits at all even after paying for them. So Palestinians are forced to either live on the streets, flee the country or build without a permit.
Ibrahim stated that he paid a lawyer, Sami al-Sheikh between $50,000 and $60,000 in order to appeal the Israeli decision to recognize his home as illegal. He stated that the lawyer attempted four times to have the decision appealed, all of which were instantly rejected.
Ibrahim then said, “I was shocked when they informed me yesterday that my home had to be demolished within one day…I attempted to plead with them for a few weeks, but they rejected my attempts.”
In the end, Ibrahim was handed over another decision to pay for bulldozers, which he was to organize himself, to destroy his home or to allow Israeli regime bulldozers to do it by force.
He decided to do it himself as he was informed that if the Israeli authorities were to destroy his home, he would have to pay them up to NIS 250,000 ($73,000).
His home has now been reduced to rubble and his children were left crying over the rubble. This is especially hard for his children to accept, having spent their whole lives growing up in the former residence.
Beyond al-Quds, Israel continues its displacement campaign, especially elsewhere in the occupied West Bank and the Negev Desert, where hundreds of houses and structures have been destroyed this year alone. House demolitions occurred in Jenin (northern West Bank) yesterday and Susiya (southern West Bank) today.
Just last year, over 2200 houses and structures were demolished in Negev, in what has been deemed as the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” from the area.