Name: Dua K.
Age: 22 Location: Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem Date: 5 February 2013 Incident Property Destruction
On 5 February 2013, a two storey house in East Jerusalem is demolished while court proceedings relating to the house are ongoing. Twenty-seven men, women and children are made homeless by the demolition. A video of the demolition is available here.
Twenty-two year old Dua lives with her extended family in Beit Hanina, in East Jerusalem. The two storey building was home to three families made up of 27 people. “At 8 a.m. on 5 February I was still in bed when all of a sudden I heard loud banging at the front door. I was startled and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was scared since I was at home by myself; my father was at work, my siblings at school and my mother was on her way to visit her family in Hebron. I felt my heart was about to jump out. Deep inside I knew it was bad news,” recalls Dua.
As the banging on the door got louder, Dua went to see who it was. “Open up, we’ve come to demolish your house,” called out a man behind the door. “I told the man I was alone but he insisted that I open the door. When I opened the door I saw about seven soldiers who rushed in. I was shaking from fear and went to the kitchen because more soldiers were banging on the back door. I felt my legs were failing me, I was shivering. One soldier told me to take whatever cash there was in the house and to get out immediately. I took out the cash and some jewelry and called my father. My father could tell from my voice that something terrible had happened, he thought someone had died. I told him to come home immediately because the house was about to be demolished. I then called my mother who was still in the bus on her way to Hebron. She got off immediately and took another bus back home.”
“I then called my fiancé and told him the story and asked him to come to be with me because I was about to collapse. I tried to go upstairs to my uncle’s house to be with his wife because soldiers were there too trying to get everyone out. One of the soldiers pushed me back and told me to get out. I went crazy and was so angry that I couldn’t think properly. I tried to go back into our house to get the laptop and some family photos but the soldiers just pushed me out.”
Once outside Dua saw that many soldiers had surrounded the house. “There were ambulances, army jeeps, a big army truck in addition to dogs and policemen on horses. It was like a battle field,” recalls Dua. “My aunts and young cousins had also been forced outside from the upstairs apartment. We were all crying and holding each other, trying to calm each other.” A short time later Dua’s mother arrived. “She was in tears and tried to argue with one of the soldiers. The soldier pushed her away and told her to shut up. He verbally abused her and cursed our family. She went hysterical when she saw soldiers taking our furniture out of the house. They were deliberately careless and many items were damaged. Another group of soldiers were throwing my uncle’s furniture out of the second floor window. It was unbelievably shocking.”
A short time later two bulldozers arrived on the scene. “The bulldozers immediately started hammering down the building,” recalls Dua. (See video) “Our neigbours came and took us to their house; it was unbearable to watch the house being brought down to a pile of rubble. My mother fainted and was rushed to the nearby clinic where they gave her first aid treatment. I didn’t think she was going to survive this. The actual demolition took about seven hours, by 3:30 p.m. the two-storey building was a pile of rubble and twisted metal mixed with our personal belongings. I cannot describe my feelings, no words will capture the deep sorrow I felt and the humiliation of being thrown out into the street. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that from that day I was without a home. I thought of my young sister who will have no home to come back to after school.”
“The demolition came as a total shock to all of us. My father and my uncles, who own the land, were in the process of presenting legal documents in court. The Israeli court was looking into our case and requested us to provide some documents which we were working on. The demolition occurred in the middle of court proceedings to ensure the building was legal. The soldiers who executed the demolition did not provide us with any documents or court orders. No injustice compares to this.”
Dua and her extended family now live in tents and temporary structures next to the rubble of their home. “My parents, I and my five siblings sleep in one tent. There is no privacy and no space. We are all short-tempered and agitated,” says Dua. “The Israeli authorities don’t want Palestinians in Jerusalem and will not leave us alone, not for a second. They make it impossible to build legally and spare no opportunity to make us feel insecure and unwanted.”