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.

 

UN Security Council to vote Tuesday on Syria sanctions

Erdogan ‘not welcome’ to campaign in Austria

Israel bombs Gaza after rocket attack

Egypt lawmaker says expulsion warning to opposition

Film on Syria's White Helmets wins Academy Award

Report says Israel unprepared for 2014 Gaza tunnel threat

Erdogan threatens paper for controversial story

Shelling, checkpoint blocks UN aid chief's Yemen visit

Somali president declares severe drought ‘national disaster’

Putin says Syria sanctions hamper peace efforts

Russia wants terrorism added to Syria talks agenda

UK judge: Tunisia police 'cowardly' over beach massacre

Palestinian elections to be held in West Bank only

Iraqi civilians flee west Mosul hardship

Netanyahu on defensive ahead of Gaza war report

Turkey begins biggest trial yet of coup suspects

Turkey wants part in Raqa recapture

Israel begins evacuating West Bank settler homes

Fateh al-Sham Front head says Syria opposition leaders must 'step aside'

Saudi Arabia is Changing

Libya PM to visit Moscow seeking better ties

Conditions in Libya driving migration to Europe

Is Jordan signalling a shift in its Syria strategy?

11 killed in Syria regime raids

Israeli checkpoint guards shoot Palestinian woman

Saudi Aramco to invest $7 billion in Malaysia oil refinery

Referendum set to be tight race for Turkey’s Erdogan

Cyber attacks in Gulf countries on the rise

Iraqi forces reach key Mosul bridge

UN urges negotiating Syria rivals to avoid insults

EU border agency says migrant rescues encourage traffickers

Israeli officials brace for Gaza war report

Key Egyptian legislator says poverty more dangerous than terrorism

UN chief says disregard for rights 'spreading'

GCC geopolitics spike military sales at IDEX

ISIS has brought Saudi Arabia and the United States closer

Ailing Bouteflika 'doing well' despite health scare

Morocco to withdraw from Western Sahara tension zone

Iraq forces look to build floating bridge in Mosul

Shia leadership struggle ahead after Khamenei and Sistani

The huge risks of Trump’s call to ‘take’ Iraqi oil

Trump set to zero in on Hezbollah in bid to curb Iran

Time bomb of unemployment among Arab youth

Push on IS capital Raqqa gathers momentum

Woman journalist says targeted by hardliners in Sudan