Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Im Kamel's Tent

We went to visit a women living in an area close to Jerusalem. The story I heard there blew my mind. She is living in a tent because she has been forced out of her home. She is a refugee from 1948 when her family was forced out of what is now Israel. In 1956 an international agency built several homes in this neighborhood which at that time was part of Jordon. She and her husband were given clear title to one of these houses. It is a duplex type house and her brother was living in the other half of the house. When her brother was away in 2001 Israeli settlers occupied half of her house and set up an armed camp there. She and her husband continued to live in the house while they tried to pursue legal action to have the armed settlers removed from the other half of their house. The government keep dragging their feet and in the mean time the settlers got more violent and made life miserable for the family. With the help of international lawyers they finally won a court case to have the settlers evicted. Even though she won the case and the judge ordered the housing authority to remove the settlers, the housing authority simply refused to acknowledge the court order. On the day after the settlers were to be removed the army came and actually removed her and her husband from there own house. He was ill and in a wheelchair when they removed him from the home he clearly owns. Since last December she has been living in a make shift tent nearby. The incident was so traumatic for her husband that in the second week after they were forced out, he had a heart attack and died. She is now on her own and still fighting, with lots of international help, to get her house back. The army has demolished her tent four times and has fined her tens of thousands of dollars for the demolition costs. The tent is on private land owned by a friend of hers and he has given her permission to live there. They have fined him too. The next court battle is on February 8th but the experts are saying that even if they win again in court. the verdict will likely be ignored because the government only accepts the finding of their own courts if they want to. The next time you hear someone say that we need to support Israel because it is the only democracy in the Middle East. Think of this story.

60 Minutes - Is Peace Out of Reach?