Ghaleb Abu Hadwan, 63, and his family are staying with extended family back in Shufat refugee camp after Israeli forces last week destroyed the new home they had constructed in Wadi al-Hummus, after saving up for it for years.
“We are refugees from Yafa [Jaffa in Hebrew and English]”, Ghaleb told MAP, “and lived in Shufat. My three sons and I worked so hard as plumbers to save all our money to construct a big building for all the family.”
Then last Monday at around 2:30am, Israeli forces surrounded the Wadi al Hummus neighbourhood in the Sur Bahir area of Jerusalem governorate. They ordered the residents to evacuate their homes and declared the area a “Closed Military Zone”.
“I refused to leave”, Ghaleb said. “This house was my life, all our savings and hard work. How can they destroy my life? I tried to resist, but I lost consciousness. My brain refused to witness my house turning to rubble.”
Mohammed Abu Tair, a 43-year-old father of four, told MAP a similar story.
“I was almost finished with my nine-story building. I had invested over nine million Shekels in it. It took me years of hard work. In 2017, we received an order from the Israeli Supreme Court to stop all construction in Wadi al Hummus, until the Court examined the military decision to demolish all the houses in the area. But I still had hope that the decision of the Supreme Court would be fair and humane. We had every right to be optimistic. My building and many others were in an area which is under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority and had been granted the required building permits. There was no legal basis for them to be demolished by the Israelis”
“How can I let all the years of hard work be destroyed in few minutes? I did not know what to do,” continued Mohammed.
“I decided to lie down on the floor of my building. I told the soldiers that I refused to leave. There were several Israeli and international solidarity supporters present, but the Israeli soldiers hit them and forced them to leave.