Police clash with protesters as Kafr Kanna house razed again

Interior Ministry tears down permitless home for the second time in two months, after it was rebuilt by villagers

View of Kafr Kanna, in the Galilee region of Israel. March 28 2011. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
View of Kafr Kanna, in the Galilee region of Israel. March 28 2011. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

A house without a proper permit was demolished for a second time Monday by Israeli authorities, setting off riots in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Kafr Kanna

The house belonged to Tareq Khatib, a resident of the village, which lies directly north of Nazareth.

Many residents arrived at the site to demonstrate against the demolition, and two were injured when police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported.

Police arrested two residents under suspicion of rock-throwing and another who drove a car toward police at the site of the demolition, the Walla news site reported. Khatib himself was also arrested.

“I don’t believe what is happening,” Khatib told Ynet before he was arrested, “It is my right to live with my family in a house like a human being. I did not break the law, but rather built on my own land. We live in a state that is abandoning its citizens instead of helping them. Where will we go? We don’t have anywhere else. Today, we’ve been left without a roof.

“I will build it [the home] a thousand times if they force me to do so,” the father of six told Walla news, “I have nowhere else to live.”

In a conversation with Walla, Arfan Khatib, a member of the local council and a relative of Tareq, accused the government of having discriminatory housing policies

“The absurdity is that the state is constructing thousands of housing units here above us in the Har Yona neighborhood of Nazareth, on lands that were stolen from the residents of Kafr Kanna, and we are forbidden to buy houses there,” he said. “People from Tel Aviv, from Bnei Brak, from Jerusalem will live there, while here, on our land, we are forbidden to build.”

Emphasizing the need for a new zoning plan in light of overpopulation, the local council member Khatib added, “Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 15,000 residents living in the village, and today there are over 25,000… young couples have nowhere to live. It is a tough crisis that is on the brink of exploding.”

The demolition came after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein declined a request by Arab members of Knesset to halt the destruction of Arab homes and adopt a policy of granting permits, the Haaretz daily reported. But Weinstein said that a “comprehensive freeze on enforcement procedures for a certain community is irreconcilable with the basic principle of the rule of law.”

The house was rebuilt two months ago with the donations and help of Khatib’s fellow villagers, after it was razed in April by the Interior Ministry. Stirring up strong emotions within the Arab population, the first destruction of the house led to a general strike on the part of Kafr Kanna’s residents. Three other houses were also demolished around the same time in Dahmash, near Lod. Later, the entire Arab-Israeli community announced a general strike and staged a protest at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv against Israel’s policy of home demolitions.

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