Thousands of Arab Israelis protest Qalansawe home demolitions

Residents vow to rebuild 11 destroyed structures; demonstrations attended by lawmakers, Arab mayors

MKs from the Joint (Arab) List join locals to view the building demolitions in Qalansawe, January 10, 2017 (Courtesy: Joint Arab List)
MKs from the Joint (Arab) List join locals to view the building demolitions in Qalansawe, January 10, 2017 (Courtesy: Joint Arab List)

Thousands of people of Arab Israelis took to the streets in the town of Qalansawe on Friday to protest recent house demolitions, warning that continued acts could lead to unrest among the community.

Protesters, accompanied by local politicians and Arab Israeli lawmakers, marched from the center of the town in northern Israel to the demolition site, where they listened to speeches. Some carried Palestinian flags.

“Thousands of people came out today to take part in the demonstration in Qalansawe, whole families, women, men and children, in unprecedented numbers considering the last few years, came out with a clear call against the crime and cruelty of ruining homes of families built on private land,” said Joint (Arab) List chairman MK Ayman Odeh.

“The Arab public already knows that the prime minister decided to mark it as the No. 1 enemy and now he is trying to hide his corruption with demolitions and wild incitement,” Odeh said.

Arab leaders have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ordering demolitions in Arab towns and neighborhoods in response to the impending evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, and to divert attention from the ongoing police investigation into his alleged misdeeds.

Many of the marchers said that continued demolitions would lead to unrest among the community, Ynet reported.

During the rally, organizers announced the establishment of a fund to collect money to rebuild the homes.

On Tuesday, the national unit for enforcing planning and construction laws demolished 11 buildings built without a permit in the city.

According to Haaretz, the homes were owned by four families on land that they own but that was designated as farm land. The paper said the families found out that administrative demolition warrants were issued for the structures only days before the demolition and so they had no time to legally prepare to appeal against the warrants.

Qalansawe Mayor Abed el Basset Salama said he would resign following the demolition.

Mayor Salama also criticized Netanyahu. The demolitions “will not change the position of the residents and home owners who will stay here and rebuild their homes.”

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