Council for the National Interest

Palestinian Family Threatened by Fifth Home Demolition Order

Feb 20 2014 / 10:18 pm

PNN, 2/20/14 – Palestine News Network (PNN) met the Mousa family yesterday afternoon on the sunny hillside of their home between al-Khader and Batir village to hear the story of Ali Saleem Mousa about his two homes that have been demolished four times over the past three decades.

Ali Saleem Mousa owns 30 dunams situated on both sides of the Israeli security wall. He lives with his two wives and nearly 20 children on the property that has been in his family for 11 generations counting down to his grandchildren. He is forbidden to work his land that is on the Israeli side of the wall, and Palestinians who are caught, as well as their donkeys, are known to be beaten viciously by the soldiers. He makes the journey anyways with his donkey Hamis, a trip that now takes an hour to circumvent the wall compared to the 7 minute walk before the security wall was built. Saleem has a well for water and a multitude of plants that he cares for, and commented that his presence on his land often seems to terrify the local settlers.

His story of the demolitions of his home begins in 1985 when he began construction of two homes on the top of the mountain of his property. Saleem stated that ever since then, every room, every step, every new development on his property earns a new demolition order.

The first demolition came in 1988, and both homes were torn to the ground. His family rebuilt them again immediately in the exact same locations.

In the months between 1999 and 2000, the Israeli army built a military camp right next door to the family’s homes, and one afternoon they arrested the entire family and placed them inside the military camp while bulldozers came and demolished both houses again. The family returned to rebuild, and the children use the abandonded military camp as a sort of play area.

In 2004, another demolition order came, and Saleem went to court to fight the decision. Despite his determination for the court to revoke the decision, for the third time, both homes were demolished. Once again, the family rebuilt both homes.

In 2010, the military closed the area surrounding the Mousa’s home and others in the immediate vicinity. The family’s lawyer arrived to negotiate and discuss with the army, and his arguments were mostly ignored, but only one home was demolished this time. The deputy mayor of the al-Khader municipality told PNN that at this point, he rented a bulldozer himself to help remove the rubble of the previous home so that the area could be cleared to once again begin reconstruction. For the subsequent weeks, 2-3 jeeps of the army, police, and civil administration came to the site of the reconstruction to steal materials and machines. Saleem told us that they put him in jail, and made him pay fines in order the get the equipment and materials returned.

He also recalled circumstances where international organization, the Red Cross, gave the family tents in which to live, which were saunas in the summer and freezers in the winter. However, these tents were eventually confiscated by the army, because they did not offer a nice view to settlers enjoying the snow. Saleem was forced to pay the rent for the space where they kept the tents in order to get them back.

In 2012, the family received a new demolition order for their homes, but thus far nothing has been done.

Saleem went on to tell PNN of various injustices faced by him and his family over the years. He told us that the Palestinian Authority and various representatives had offered to pay for materials to aid in the reconstruction of his home. He went to the supply stores and wrote checks for the materials, but soon realized that the money never transferred from the PA, and the checks he had written to the local supply stores bounced. He was sent to jail in Palestine. He stated that it seems crazy that he has been in Israeli jail for working the land he is forbidden to, and in Palestinian jail for money concerns for what he thought had been donated to his cause. One of his eldest sons showed PNN the bag in which they have kept the documents of fines paid, receipts that demand payment, demolition orders and photographs of the history of each home. He explained that the bag is worth over 300 000 shekels that his family has paid since 1985 in unjust and inexplicable costs. These include being forced to pay for the bulldozers that demolished their homes, money for the workers and soldiers that participated, and the fees demanded to reacquire stolen materials, machines, tents etc.

Saleem stated that he sees it as little cost to lose his house, the blocks and concrete and belongings, but he is ready to give his life for his land. He explained his plans to build a cemetery on the land vacated by the army where the military camp was built. He has such a strong connection to his land, as demonstrated by his refusal to leave and commitment to rebuilding again and again. He said that after he dies, he will still remain on his land, as will the rest of his family.

Saleem expressed distain for the people moving into the Jewish settlements who argue that they have a right to the land. Once again he told PNN of his family living there for 11 generations, with a strong culture, history, and legacy on this land for centuries. He argued that the settlers have nothing; that they come in and take the culture and history that exists and make it their own. He is teaching his children to resist and continue to fight for their family’s land, and to believe that like clouds, the settlers will eventually drift away and leave. He stressed that this is not empty land, despite the occupation’s mission to create land without people. The more martyrs, injured and displaced people that the army creates only fuels the drive of the Palestinian people to fight for their rights. Saleem asked us which religious text mandates such treatment of a population? Which prophet called for these actions? He told PNN that every single Palestinian family is suffering from the occupation; the same pain is felt from the same occupation. He also thanked and expressed his gratitude that his people feel towards those who come to listen and retell the stories of his people. They want peace and justice and pray that someday these hopes will become reality for his family and every other Palestinian family.

Posted by on Feb 20 2014 . Filed under News from the Middle East . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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