Illegal House Demolished for Second Time, Despite Arab MKs' Pleas

House was rebuilt by activists after first demolition caused outcry among Israeli Arab public.

Gil Eliyahu

A large police force on Monday carried out a second demolition order issued against a private residence built without a permit in the Arab town of Kafr Kana, despite pleas by Israeli Arab lawmakers to forgo its implementation.

The structure had been recently rebuilt by Tarek Khattib, with the help of activists and volunteers, after an earlier version constructed on the same site was torn down in April – an action that caused a wide outcry among the Israeli Arab public, which suffers from an acute housing shortage.

The site on which the twice-demolished residence was built is located on the northeast edge of the town, inside an olive grove belonging to Khattib's family – who say they have been trying to obtain a permit for years, to no avail.

The demolition was carried out amid appeals against it made by Israeli Arab Knesset members to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. The MKs requested a freeze on demolition orders issued against tens of thousands of houses in Arab villages, towns and cities that have been built without permits, across Israel. The MKs asked that instead of demolishing the structures, plans be advanced for granting them retroactive approval, and for expanding the zoning jurisdiction of Arab towns and cities, as a step to battle the acute shortage of housing plaguing Israel's Arab community.

The request was turned down by Weinstein, who stated that a sweeping freeze on law enforcement aimed at a certain sector of public would be in contradiction to Israel's fundamental legal principles.

Two months ago, three houses were destroyed, also after being served demolition notices, in the unrecognized village of Dahamesh, near the city of Lod. The actions led to a storm in the Arab sector, and in the end of April, the High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel called for a protest rally and called for a decision to the shortage to be found. But despite the storm, only several thousand people showed up for the rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.