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The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: One Side of the Story

Israel is a country with a lot going for it. We would go back there in a heartbeat – it was such an incredible place. But it is also important to know, that underneath all of the positives there is a very big issue here: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been taking place since the early 20th century, and trust us… it is still very evident today.

ICAHD rebuilding a demolished home in 2010. Photo Courtesy of ICAHD.org


Before our stay in Jerusalem, both Shawna and I will fully admit we were really ignorant as to what was taking place in Israel in regards to this conflict. We knew conflict existed, but the reasons for this conflict, it’s history, and the current state of it were things we had never spent much time learning about. So when a friend of ours recommended the East Jerusalem Tour from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD),we knew it was a chance to have our eyes opened and at least see one side of the story.

ICAHD, as their full name states, is a small group of Israelis who are against the demolition of Palestinian homes. These guys are really putting their necks on the line, as it appears as though the number of Jewish citizens who would consider this a problem, seems to be quite minimal. Sadly, when I asked if more Jews seem to be becoming sympathetic to their cause, I was told that no, this is not the case. Even Jews who are very liberal in their world views still support the Zionist (all Jewish) state.

A demolished home


The current situation has been compared to the apartheid in South Africa, and it is definitely not an easy life for the Palestinian people. Building permits are next to impossible for them to obtain, and so, in 99.9% of the cases their homes are being built illegally from the moment the first brick is being laid. The homeowners will be served a Demolition Order, and from that moment on, even if they continue to live in that house for the next decade, it may be demolished with twelve hours notice. Palestinians are fined for building illegally, and if their home IS demolished they are the ones who have to pay for the bulldozer!! Since 1967 ICAHD estimates that there have been nearly 25,000 housing demolitions, including this latest one.

We also spent some time at the Separation Wall, an 8M tall concrete wall, which when completed will total 760kms in length. According to ICAHD, this is another tactic to push the Palestinian people out of Jerusalem and into the West Bank. If something can be impressive and bleak at the same time, this was it. When we stopped to view the wall, we could see the main Palestinian University. Although it was only a few hundred metres away, the fact that it is on the other side of the barrier means that Palestinian students may have to walk or drive to the closest checkpoint every day in order to attend university. We were told that getting through the checkpoints is never a guarantee, and some days they would have to wait for hours, just to get to their school.

The Separation Wall with the Palestinian University in the background


Although we both recognize that there is still so much about this conflict that we are, well…completely ignorant of (i.e. there is obviously a whole other side to the story, that we simply didn’t have the time to explore), there is no doubt, we were very thankful that we had the chance to spend the better part of the day with ICAHD. If you are ever in Jerusalem, this would be one of the first things I would seek out. You won’t regret it.

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  1. We Heart Israel | Get Up and Globe - February 1, 2012

    [...] done an excellent job describing our tour with the Israeli Commission Against Housing Demolition. Click here to check it out… we spent an entire day trying to get a better understanding of the Israeli conflict with the [...]

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