Beit Arabiya is the name of the home of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, a family of nine whose home has been demolished four times.
Any day now, the Civil Administration, Israel’s military government over the Occupied Territories, could order the home demolished for the fifth time.
The Shawamreh home in the village of Anata, in the West Bank but just meters over the Jerusalem municipal boundary, has become the symbol of the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes -- and of resistance to the Occupation in general. Salim and Arabiya both come from families made refugees in 1948. In the early ’90s they bought a small plot of land in the village of Anata, close to the Shuafat refugee camp where Salim grew up. They applied to the Civil Administration three times for a building permit and were denied each time for a different reason -- the basic one being that Israel had zoned virtually the entire West Bank as agricultural land according to a British plan (RJ-5) formulated in 1942 which freezes Palestinian building as it was 65 years ago. Indeed, RJ-5 is used to "legally" deny building permits to Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories. And like thousands of other families -- ICAHD estimates that the number of demolition orders in the West Bank and East Jerusalem reaches into the tens of thousands -- the Shawamrehs were forced to build their home "illegally," although the right to shelter is a fundamental human right.