First Published: 2017-01-11

Arab Israelis strike over house demolitions
Arabs close businesses, schools across Israel in one-day protest over lack of access to building permits, resulting in house demolitions by Jewish state.
Middle East Online

Authorities tore down 11 Arab homes in Qalansuwa Tuesday

JERUSALEM - Arabs across Israel closed businesses and schools on Wednesday in a one-day strike to protest against the demolition of Arab homes built without the required, but hard-to-get, permits.

On Tuesday, authorities tore down 11 homes in the Arab town of Qalansuwa, in northern Israel.

Arab Israelis say discrimination by the Jewish state that makes it impossible for them to obtain planning permission to expand their communities.

The result is that many families resort to building homes without permission, leaving them liable to demolition.

Mohammad Barakeh, the head of an Arab Israeli umbrella organisation and a former lawmaker, said observance of Wednesday's strike "exceeded expectations."

"There was an excellent response in all Arab villages and towns," he said.

The Joint List, a coalition of predominantly Arab parties, condemned Tuesday's demolitions.

"The act of demolishing 11 houses, whose owners built on their private lands in Qalansuwa, is an unprecedented crime and a declaration of war against the residents of Qalansuwa and against the Arab community in Israel," it said.

The Joint List is the third largest bloc in the Israeli parliament.

Arab Israelis make up some 17.5 percent of the country's population, and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948.

Israeli public radio said the strike was widely observed in Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, the country's largest Arab cities, and in the mixed-population city of Haifa.

Israeli daily Haaretz said Qalansuwa mayor Abed al-Bassat Salameh resigned in the wake of Tuesday's demolitions after years of trying in vain to win official approval for an updated town plan.

It quoted Mustafa Mahlouf, one of the owners of the destroyed properties, as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gilad Erdan "want to talk about enforcement to satisfy the settlers and decided that Qalansuwa would be the first victim."

Netanyahu is facing settlers angry at a court order to evict Israelis from an unapproved settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank found to have been built on private Palestinian land.

In a video address last month as the court-imposed deadline to vacate the Amona outpost approached, Netanyahu linked the rogue outpost and Arab construction in Israel.

"The law must be equitable; the same law which obliges vacating Amona also obliges removing illegal construction in other parts of our country," he said.

"Therefore I have given orders to speed up demolition of illegal construction... in all parts of the country and we shall do that in the coming days."

The court later extended the deadline to evacuate the Amona outpost to February 8.

 

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Saudi women embrace sports headscarves

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

Record of women candidates in Lebanon, but you can't tell from TV

Sudan protests to UN over Egypt voting in disputed area

Erdogan calls Turkey snap polls for June 24

Rights watchdog say African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Nine years since last vote, Lebanon in election fever

Israeli fire neat Gaza border injures five Palestinian

Egypt army says killed jihadist leader in Sinai

Iraq sentences over 300 people to death for IS links

Syria chemical weapons visit delayed after gunfire

Syria regime shells last jihadist pockets in Damascus

After the war is won, ‘we shall not return’ to Mosul

Saudi Arabia to host cinema test screening with 'Black Panther'

Trump voices support for US pastor jailed in Turkey

Rouhani says Iran will make or buy any weapons it needs

US fears ceding influence to Russia, Iran in Syria

Nationalist Erdogan ally calls for snap Turkey elections

Saudi renews offer to deploy troops to Syria

Kaveh Madani, Iran’s expat eco-warrior who was on too many fronts