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Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Israel demolishes homes in unrecognized Palestinian village

Bulldozers knocked down three buildings in the village Dahmash, just 20 minutes from Tel Aviv, contrary to a High Court ruling.

by Rami Younis and Haggai Mattar

A bulldozer demolishes an apartment building in the unrecognized village Dahmash, April 15, 2015. (photo: Rami Younis)

A bulldozer demolishes an apartment building in the unrecognized village Dahmash, April 15, 2015. (photo: Rami Younis)

Israeli bulldozers demolished three structures in the unrecognized Palestinian village Dahmash, near Lyd (Lod in Hebrew) on Wednesday morning. The demolition took place despite both a High Court decision that called for a mutual agreement and a demand by the Lod District Court that the State delay its demolition plans. The homes were uninhabited at the time of the demolition.

The demolition began at 4 a.m. and was accompanied by a large police force, which prevented residents from leaving their homes. When the demolition was over, Joint List members Ayman Odeh, Bassel Ghattas and Dov Khenin, as well as head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah, came to the village in a show of solidarity with the residents.

 The unrecognized village Dahmash is under the jurisdiction of the Emek Lod Regional Council, a mere 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. The village has been around since 1948, and its residents even have proof of ownership in the Israel Land Registry. However, the State does not recognize their claim to the land, and does not provide the village with the necessary infrastructure or even the most basic services, such as sewage, roads, electricity, garbage collection or a post office. Over the past few years, the residents have been struggling against repeated home demolitions by coming up with their own master plan in order to gain recognition for their rights to live on their land.

“Just yesterday [Tuesday] the Lod District Court responded to our request to prevent the demolition, and called on the State to respond to our request within 48 hours, but the judge did not clearly state that she demands an injunction during this time,” said Sufyan Asaf, a resident of the village and an owner of one of the homes that was destroyed. “The police did not respect the court’s request and came to demolish the buildings before the court could even discuss our appeal against the demolition orders. On Tuesday we spoke with a police officer who promised that nothing would happen.”

The remains of the demolished buildings in the unrecognized village Dahmash, near Lod, Israel, April 15, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/

The remains of the demolished buildings in the unrecognized village Dahmash, near Lod, Israel, April 15, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/

“It must be noted that the demolition was done contrary to the High Court’s recommendation,” added MK Dov Khenin. “Due to the complexity regarding Dahmash, the judges supported a process of mutual agreement, stating that it is preferable to refrain from taking aggressive, one-sided measures. If we add these demolitions to the systematic ones happening in the Negev, as well as the one in Kafr Kanna, we can see a new wave of home demolitions that goes beyond just a local story.

Residents walk through the remains of their homes in the unrecognized village Dahmash, Israel, April 15, 2015. (Oren Ziv/

Residents walk through the remains of their homes in the unrecognized village Dahmash, Israel, April 15, 2015. (Oren Ziv/

According to the police, “Israeli Police aids the authorities in maintaining order and security in carrying out demolition orders. In this case, the orders were given by the Interior Ministry, and thus all questions regarding the legality of the demolition must be directed to them. The police assistance provided to the Interior Ministry took place after it was made clear that there is no legal obstacle to the demolition.

“We do not know of a promise by the police to delay the implementation of the order. Moreover, the police informed the family’s attorney regarding the intention to carry out the demolition order on the particular date.”

Just last month, residents of Dahmash welcomed hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis for a solidarity festival featuring artists and entertainers from across the country.

The author is a Palestinian activist and writer. Read this article in Hebrew on Local Call here.


Home demolitions: A reminder that the Nakba never ended

The destruction of Hanaa’ al-Naqib’s home in Lydd this week is a reminder that Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians didn’t end in 1948 — it has simply taken on new forms.

By Rami Younis

A bulldozer demolishes the home of Hana al-Nakib and her four children, in the city of Lod, February 10, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/

A bulldozer demolishes the home of Hanaa’ al-Nakib and her four children, in the city of Lod, February 10, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/

We could hear the wailing all the way from the entrance to the besieged neighborhood. It was a heartbreaking sound. We quietly make our way between the bushes, over the fence and past the train tracks, so as not to be detected. When it comes to the police, using words like “the media” or “photographers” doesn’t really grant you access.

We make it to the yard of one of the houses, which I recognize immediately. This place belongs to Maha al-Naqib, a member of the Lydd City Council (“Lod” in Hebrew, “Lydda” in English), and a veteran political activist in the city. We climb the fence, walk for ten seconds to the front, and there they are. Maha looks broken, tears in her eyes, as she stands near Hanaa’, her neighbor and relative. Hanaa’ is a single mother who was tossed into the street with her four children just minutes ago.

The women take turns hugging and holding Hanaa’ — I feel helpless, bordering on useless. The cops stand before them, smiling. No one goes in, no one goes out. Everyone is in the yard staring at the bulldozer destroying the house across from them. A group of women try to speak directly to the policemen, but they don’t respond. They just stare back and smile.

I remember how Maha and I sat in this very same yard just two months ago when I interviewed her for a documentary on Lydd during the Nakba, when many of the local residents were expelled from the city, and were the victims of one of the most terrible massacres of the 1948 war.

I sat in that yard, listening to Maha tell the story of her parents, who were expelled from the city but luckily were able to return. On Thursday, we got another taste of the same policies. No, the destruction of Hanaa’s house is not as terrifying as the firing of a PIAT projectile into the Dahmash Mosque, where families of refugees took shelter — an act that killed 300 Palestinian refugees in 1948. As part of the third generation of the Nakba, what I saw happening in front of me was enough to know that the State simply cannot repeat what it did to us back then. They may be able to do that in Gaza — they do different things to us. The massacres of the Nakba never ended; today Gaza carries the burden of Israel’s bloodletting. Lydd, like SilwanBeit Haninathe Negev and the rest of historic Palestine, suffers from other aspects of never-ending dispossession — a creeping Nakba.

An Israeli soldier outside the Dahmash mosque in central Lydda.

An Israeli soldier stands outside the Dahmash mosque in central Lydd.

There is no blaming the Palestinian residents for living in a city where 80 percent of their neighborhoods are, according to the state, considered “illegal.” It is obvious that these conditions are part and parcel of the establishment’s polices.

An old grudge

The case of the “Kerem al-Naqib” neighborhood in Lydd is a clear example. The al-Naqib family survived the Nakba, meaning that its current family members are the descendants of the original Palestinian residents of Lydd, from before 1948. The family homes were built on it land, adjacent to the Ganei Aviv neighborhood, built as a Jewish neighborhood for immigrants from the Soviet Union, partially on the land of the al-Naqib family.

WATCH: Police evict Hanaa’ al-Naqib and her family

The neighborhood has an approved urban planning plan, but the city refuses to implement a master plan that would give the Palestinians building permits. Without those permits, all building (even on private land) is considered illegal. This gives the political establishment the power to use force against the residents whenever it deems necessary. Lydd’s mayors have always viewed the “problem of illegal construction” in the city as one that can be blamed on the residents, as if the Zionist establishment didn’t expropriate most of their lands and is currently at work building new neighborhoods for Palestinians in Israel.

The situation in Lydd is special. We aren’t talking about just another Palestinian city that was occupied during the Nakba and is today considered “a mixed city.” We are talking about a city that fought back against Palmach war criminals and was able to hold them off for months, until Nobel Peace Price winner Yitzhak Rabin, along with Palmach commander Yigal Allon, gave the order to use non-discriminate fire in order to “dilute” the residents of Lydd. Most of the city’s residents were either expelled, killed or massacred. Everything is on display in the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv.

Hannah al-Naqib (right) as Israeli authorities demolish her home in Lod, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/

Hannah al-Naqib (right) as Israeli authorities demolish her home in Lod, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/

The feeling of anyone who grew up in Lydd and is aware of its bloody past, is that the Zionist establishment does not cease from taking revenge against the city’s residents, despite the fact that most of them today are themselves refugees from other places. Every Palestinian resident of the city is seen as a target, and the ones who suffer the most are those who cannot afford decent legal protection or an alternative to building ”illegally” on their own land. As my colleague Samah Salaime Egbariye once told me: “They are trying to hurt all of us, but can only succeed in harming the weakest among us.”

In the past they fired rockets at refugees in mosques. Today they are demolishing “illegal” home


 |Published June 17, 2013

House demolitions: Zionism's constant background noise

Hardly a day goes by without the State of Israel demolishing an Arab home between the Jordan River and the sea. The hum of bulldozers is the constant background noise of Zionism. Listen to it for a few moments.

By Idan Landau, translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman

House demolition in Anata, Northern Jerusalem, April 14, 2008 (Photo: Meged Gozani/

When people summarize the Zionist project, with the fanfare of victory or the gloom of defeat, one thing will be certain, they will be puzzled over one strange mystery. How could so many people associate Zionism with creation and construction, and not with regression and destruction. After all, in parallel with the endless construction frenzy,especially beyond the green line, the hum of bulldozers has always been audible: beating, breaking, shattering. Housing projects for new Jewish immigrants were built in record speed. Build-your-own-house neighborhoods, neighborhoods for IDF career officers, commuter suburbs, and luxury residential towers popped up everywhere; and at the very same time, the angel of Zionist history left more and more piles of ruin and devastation behind.

The demolition policy has, of course, been the Arabs’ share. From time to time, the state demolishes a tiny shred of a Jewish outpost in the occupied territories; just going through the motions, while bowing sanctimoniously to the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ). Let no one compare the master race, whose members have the benefit of myriad legal options when building their house, to the enslaved race, whose members are denied access to land, everywhere, by mountains of legal barriers; those who wish and even succeed in building their home on stolen land, to those who wish and fail to build their home on their own private land; those whose house will be protected by the sovereign through a reign of terror imposed on their neighbors, to those who can only dream of having the sovereign’s protection.

And perhaps those analysts in the future will inquire further as to why so few Israelis knew about this devastation at all, even though it took place constantly, week by week. Hardly a day goes by between the Jordan River and the sea, without a demolition of an Arab home by the State of Israel. And they will be baffled by the short Israeli memory, a memory that had forgotten long ago that the foreign British rule had committed the same crimes against us. And the greatest mystery of all will regard those who had known, yet had always assumed that the demolition policy was right, appropriate, legally justified; those who had assumed, with unquestionable simplicity, that half of the population between the river and the sea, which happens to be the Arabic-speaking half, was also delinquent by nature, simply unable to abide by the laws of planning and construction; and not only that, the other half also suffered from such staggering folly and shortsightedness, that it brought those endless demolitions upon itself, impoverishing itself to perdition in the process. After all, would there be anything simpler than lawful planning, and lawful submission of plans, and lawful attainment of permits, followed by construction? In short, is there anything simpler than being Jewish?

Yes, that is what law-abiding Israelis think to themselves, and someone will be perplexed by this as well one day. Let us now put all this perplexity aside, and get back to the dismal reality of rubble and furniture lying upside down. It happens all the time, with hardly any media coverage; reports go through one ear and come out through the other. The hum of bulldozers is the constant background noise of Zionism. Listen to it for a few moments.


The demolition of the el-Arabiyeh family home in Anata exceeds all the terrible things I have seen in my 17 years in Rabbis for Human Rights. The sight of a boy or a girl coming back from school and discovering that their house was demolished is something I would not wish my worst enemies to see.
(Rabbi Arik Asherman)

* * *

Excluding bodily and psychological harm, no graver cruelty can be inflicted on people than the demolition of their home. The financial consequence for most people is the loss of most of the capital they had accrued throughout their lives; being pushed back 20-30 years as far as their financial independence is concerned. But the demolition amounts of course to much more than that. It’s a demolition of the personal, intimate space where one’s most precious memories were formed; for a child – it is the space where all her/his intimate memories were formed. Every little detail of the house, seemingly trivial to the outside observer, is loaded with intensive meaning to those living in it. The tree in the backyard, the angle formed by shadows penetrating the room, the cracked door frame, the personal arrangement of clothes or toys. All these are wiped out in a brutal instant when the bulldozer goes over your house, and you are bound to feel disconnected – sheer detachment and floating in an alienating, impersonal space; this word, which has undergone such appalling devaluation in our language – “Trauma” – describes the situation precisely.

* * *

The State of Israel demolishes, time and time again. Here is a sequence of such demolitions, a devastating sequence, from the beginning of the year up to the past few days. It is impossible to document everything. Hundreds of photos, of every single house demolished by the state in the past six months, cannot be uploaded. One must perceive the catastrophe, but it is imperceptible. For now, we will settle for a sample. Hail the demolishing hero.

The State of Israel demolished the house of Rafat Issawi, in order to pressure his brother Samer, who went on hunger strike, Issawiya, East Jerusalem, Jan 4 2013, (photo: Activestills/Shiraz Grinbaum)


The State of Israel demolished four houses and left 36 people homeless, Um el-Kheir, South Hebron Hills, Jan 14 2013, (photo: Activestills/Keren Manor) 


The State of Israel demolished 70 structures and left an unknown number of people homeless, Jan 17 2013, Hamam el-Maleh, Jordan Valley, (photo: Activestills/Ahmed el-Bazz)

The State of Israel demolished 55 structures, leaving 187 people homeless, El-Maita, Jordan Valley Jan 20 2013, (photo: Activestills/Keren Manor)   

The State of Israel demolished two houses and left 30 people homeless, Feb. 5 2013, Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem. (photo: WAFA)

The State of Israel demolished the Abu-Saffa family house, leaving 12 people homeless, Feb 18, Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem. (photo: PNN.)

The State of Israel demolished a restaurant, Beit Jalla, Apr 18 2013. (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

The State of Israel demolished parts of the Jaradat family house, a-Tur, East Jerusalem, Apr 24 2013 (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills)

The State of Israel demolished the Sabah family house and left two parents and five children homeless, Shuafat Refugee Camp, May 20 2013. (photo: Tali Maier/Activestills)

The State of Israel demolished 15 structures and left tens of Bedouins homeless in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Atir, Negev (within the 67 borders), Mat 21 2013. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

The State of Israel demolished two apartments belonging to the el-Salaima family, leaving 13 people homeless, Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, May 21 2013. (photo: Lazar Simeonov) 

* * *

In 2011 alone, Israel demolished around 1,000 houses in the Bedouin villages in the Negev. The Ministry of Interior refuses to disclose data for 2012.

In 2012 alone, Israel demolished around 600 buildings throughout the West Bank. As a result, 880 people, more than half of them children, have lost their homes. Around 90 percent of the demolitions were carried out in Area C, and the rest in East Jerusalem.

As of now, more than 400 houses in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are under the threat of imminent demolition.

Since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 28,000 Palestinian buildings in the Occupied Territories.

37 percent of state owned land on the West Bank has been allotted to Jewish settlements since 1967. Over the same period, just 0.7 percent of this land has been allotted to Palestinians.

Since 1967, East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population has grown by almost 250,000; throughout the same period, only 3,900 building permits have been issued in that part of the city.

Nearly half of East Jerusalem still does not have zoning plans, after 46 years. 35 percent of the planning area has been designated as “open view areas,” on which construction is prohibited. Just 17 percent of Palestinian East Jerusalem is available to residents for housing and construction, and these land resources have been nearly exhausted. Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have no legal way of building houses.  

Between 2005 and 2009, the construction of 18,000 housing units in Jerusalem was approved; just 13 percent of them were in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

In most parts of East Jerusalem, building density is restricted to 75 percent. In West Jerusalem, the rate goes up to 150 percent.

180,000 Palestinians who reside in Area C have to settle for just 0.5 percent of this area for legal construction.

In 2009-2010 just 13 out of 776 requests for building permits by Palestinians in Area C were approved, no more than 1.7 percent.

Demolition orders have been issued against the majority of the buildings in the 180-year-old village of Hirbet Susya, home to 250 people, and the same goes for the inhabitants of the Hirbet Dukaikah and Hirbet Zanuta (Hebrew), home to 550 people. The State of Israel intends to wipe out entire villages in Area C.