St John the Baptist Parish Church

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House demolitions: Beit Arabiya


As part of our ‘Vision’ priorities for 2012, Lisa has asked me to raise awareness of the continuing lack of justice for the Palestinian people in the Holy Land.   


One example of this injustice is that since 1967, around 2,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem. According to official statistics, from 2000 – 2008 the Israeli authorities demolished more than 670 East Jerusalem homes and the number of outstanding demolition orders is estimated at up to 20,000.  ICAHD(Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions) is a non-violent, direct-action organization established in 1997 to resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. 



Beit Arabiya (meaning Arabiya's House) the home of Arabiya and Salim Shawamreh, was used as a peace centre after it was demolished and rebuilt for the fourth time.  It was dedicated in memory of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women (an American and a Palestinian) who died resisting house demolitions in Gaza.  


Beit Arabiya was demolished for a fifth time by the Israeli Authorities at around 11pm on the night of 23 January 2012.  Bulldozers accompanied by heavily armed soldiers demolished three houses as well as outhouses and animal pens.  Salim and Arabiya, along with their neighbours and friends stood and watched as this tragedy unfolded once again.


ICAHD regularly used the house as part of their tours, and based its annual rebuilding camp at the house.  ICAD supporters have rebuilt 185 demolished Palestinian homes.  

Then on Tuesday 24th came further news that Israeli authorities had demolished the home of the Abu Omar family, rebuilt by ICAHD in July 2011 following its demolition in 2005 This house was built on land owned by the Abu Omar family.  Once again the family watched in horror as the demolition took place.


Amos Trust supporters have visited Beit Arabiya many times during pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Brian and I visited with the Amos Trust in 2009 receiving the traditional Palestinian hospitality.  Salim was a guest speaker at the Greenbelt Festival last year.


Please pray for the Shawamreh and Abu Omar families and other 20,000 families whose houses are under threat of demolition.


Hazel Berry