Nazareth — Yesterday, the Arab Association for Human Rights sent letters to 27 foreign embassies highlighting the urgent and pressing nature of Palestinian home demolitions in Israel. The letters were sent in the wake of Tuesday’s massive home demolitions in Qalansawe, an Arab city in the northern “Triangle” region of Israel. The demolitions was carried out before the end of a 48-hour window in which residents were permitted to appeal to the courts, and the destruction represents the largest day of Palestinian Arab house demolitions in Northern Israel since 1948.
In the letters, the HRA argued that Tuesday’s house demolitions in Qalansawe were not an apolitical exercise of land planning policy, but rather the practical extension of rhetorical strategies used by Israeli government leaders. After the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the dismantling of the Israeli outpost of Amona, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised settlers a renewed commitment to “enforcing laws” on “illegal construction,” and he justified yesterday’s demolitions by arguing that “home demolitions must be egalitarian.” Likewise, Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan noted that “the complex campaign reflects equal law enforcement in Israel as it should be.” Israeli government leaders have harnessed the desires of Israeli settlers and other ultranationalists to weaken Arab communities in Israel, as a kind of tit-for-tat policy that punishes Arab citizens of Israel for the dislocation of Jewish settlers.
Israeli government authorities justify the demolition of residences that are "illegal" or unlicensed by the State, but ignore the fact that – by neglecting to offer real housing solutions, master plans, adequate infrastructure, and financial resources – they have failed to address the severe housing shortage that prompts Palestinian families to construct residences without a license in the first place. In December, 2015, Palestinian representatives offered solutions to Israel’s policy of housing discrimination in the Arab Development Plan (Decision 922), which included a renewed commitment to creating master plans and offering construction permits to Arab citizens. However, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of the Interior are currently advocating for a policy that would prioritize the destruction of unlicensed Palestinian homes – including those built on privately owned land – and allow the government to demolish 50,000 Palestinian homes, dislocating up to 300,000 Palestinians in Israel. The demolitions in Qalansawe are indicative of a renewed government interest in the systematic destruction of Palestinian homes throughout Israel.
Wednesday’s general strikes across the country – which were called for by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens – suggest that Palestinian Arabs won’t sit idly by as Israeli forces undermine and demolish their communities. In the letters to foreign embassies, HRA appealed to international ambassadors and diplomats to acknowledge the urgent and escalating nature of this human rights violation, to utilize all available diplomatic channels to pressure the Israeli government to cease its policy of house demolitions, and to raise the issue of house demolitions in diplomatic communications with Israel. Representatives from the HRA hope to meet with foreign diplomats concerning the Israel’s police of home demolitions and to facilitate meetings between foreign diplomats and the residents of Qalansawe.. Furthermore, the HRA is committed to serving the international community by providing information and documentation regarding home demolitions in Israel. The HRA hopes to work with international communities to put an end to the destruction of Palestinian homes in Israel.