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http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,158%257E125691,00.html


Uprooting Palestinians makes Israel less secure

By Omar Jabara, Denver Post


Thursday, August 30, 2001 - Frantically snapping photographs with my camera, I tried to capture as much of the house demolition as possible on film. I had seen several Palestinian families in the Israeli-occupied West Bank digging through the rubble of their recently demolished homes trying to salvage what they could. However, up until that day in 1985, never had I witnessed the bulldozers in action since the Israeli army executes most Palestinian home demolitions between midnight and 3 a.m.

As usual, the Israeli soldiers and bulldozers show up without warning and give the occupants 15 minutes to leave with whatever they are able to carry.

In this particular case, the family was told their home was being demolished because it was built on Israeli military property. This came as news to the Palestinian owner, since his family had owned that particular parcel of land for more than 150 years, 113 years before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Once his home was reduced to rubble, the owner was handed a document ordering him to pay the bulldozer fee or be sent to prison.

Due to the number of home demolitions and land confiscations since 1967, this man's village alone - Al-Asaweya - has been reduced from 2,500 acres to less than 20, as Israel continues its quest to expropriate as much Palestinian land as possible before signing a peace deal.

Since 1967, the Israeli army has demolished or sealed (by filling all entrances and windows with concrete) more than 6,000 Palestinian homes, while 750,000 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza have been confiscated and given to Jewish settlers. Some 2,700 of the house demolitions and sealings in the West Bank and Gaza occurred after 1987, and there are currently 2,000 demolition orders in effect waiting to be executed.

In addition to the home demolitions and land confiscations, Israel intentionally killed 25,000 Palestinian olive and fruit trees and bulldozed 10,000 acres of Palestinian agricultural land, for inexplicable "security reasons," in the last year alone.

These Israeli tactics to uproot Palestinians from their homes and farms are hardly new. In fact, they date to the creation of the state of Israel on the land of Palestine in 1948.

Moshe Dayan, Israel's highly celebrated war hero, was unequivocal in 1969 when he boasted about how the state of Israel came into being: "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."

Of the 475 Palestinian villages and towns in Palestine, 385 were bulldozed by Israel and 780,000 Palestinians were forced to flee for their lives to the surrounding countries.

Israel's largely successful efforts to destroy and expropriate Palestinian homes and land over the last six decades have understandably outraged the Palestinian population and made Israel more vulnerable to attacks from people who have nothing left to lose.

Until recently, Israel refused to even recognize the existence of the Palestinian people, hoping they would get tired of having their homes destroyed and land confiscated and just go away. As esteemed former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said to the Times of London on June 15, 1969: "It was not as though there was a Palestinian people, and in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people, and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist."

Israel's demands for security will remain elusive as long as it continues to uproot and humiliate the Palestinian populace through home demolitions, land confiscation, orchard destruction, assassinations and routine torture. What type of reaction was Israel expecting?



 

Omar Jabara ([email protected]) of Arvada is a former Colorado Voices columnist and the son of Lebanese immigrants. Guest commentary submissions of 650 words may be sent to The Post editorial page.


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