Palestinians rally against Israel’s home demolitions
Thousands of Palestinians have staged separate mass demonstrations across the occupied territories amid calls for a general strike after Israeli military forces raided a village in the Negev desert and tore down a cluster of buildings.
“We took to the streets to protest and make the voice of the Palestinian people heard. We will not accept being deported from our homes, marginalized and killed,” said Kholoud Abu Ahmed, a resident of Haifa in northern Israel.
She added that Palestinians will continue to protest and stand against the demolition of their homes as well as the Israeli regime’s terrorism.
Israeli authorities, Abu Ahmed said, are seeking to force the local residents of Umm al-Hayran village out of their homes, and construct an illegal settlement there instead.
Scores of Israeli military forces stormed Umm al-Hayran on Wednesday morning to demolish a number of Palestinian houses under construction.
The raid prompted fierce scuffles with villagers, with Israeli troops firing tear gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. A villager, identified as Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, was fatally shot, and four others sustained gunshot wounds.
Ayman Odeh, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) that currently serves as the head of the Arab-dominated political alliance Joint List, was shot in the head and injured during the melee.
Israeli officials claimed Qiyan was shot dead as he drove his car at Israeli forces in Umm al-Hayran. They said an Israeli officer, identified as Erez Levi, was killed in the purported car-ramming assault.
Local residents, however, maintain that Qiyan was simply driving to the scene to talk to Israeli authorities in an attempt to stop the demolitions.
The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee (AHMC), which is an independent political organization coordinating political action among various Palestinian groups in Israel, announced the launch of a general strike across Palestinian villages and cities in Israel on Thursday.
Mohamed Baraka, head of the AHMC, urged the international community to protect Palestinians against what he described as “the clear targeting of Palestinians” by the Israeli regime.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced on December 29, 2016 that Israel’s demolition campaign against Palestinian homes and structures across the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds had reached the most unprecedented level in the past seven years.
The UN body stated that Israeli authorities had demolished or seized 1,089 Palestinian-owned structures since the start of last January up until December 28. The demolitions also left some 1,593 Palestinians homeless and affected the lives of another 7,101.
Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures have raised alarm among diplomats and human rights groups over what they regard as the Tel Aviv regime’s continued violation of international law.
The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed tensions ever since Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
Nearly 280 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October that year.