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.

 

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack

WHO says 315 cholera deaths in Yemen in under one month

Trump seeks Israeli-Palestinian peace, lashes out at Iran again