Israeli-Arab Panel Vows to Rebuild Demolished Haifa House

House demolished after clashes between protestors and police during which 12 were hurt, including MKs.

The Supreme Arab Monitoring Committee decided on Sunday evening to rebuild the house of an Israeli-Arab family from Haifa which was earlier the same day demolished by authorities after clashes between police and local residents.

Twelve people were lightly injured in the clashes when a 300-strong police force took over the house, expelling its residents, who had been barricaded in the structure since Saturday. Members of the Abu-Shkar family, refusing to leave the house, had threatened to blow themselves up using gas tanks. Policemen and protesters exchanged blows prior to the expulsion of the family.

The monitoring committee approved a proposal made by MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash-Ta'al) to appoint a team that will coordinate efforts with the Abu-Shkars to rebuild the house in the coming days.

During the meeting, Barakeh said that "we are working according to our clear principle opposing the house demolition policy. They demolish, and we rebuild. Thus is not only a slogan, but what will happen on the ground."

The committee also adopted a decision to start raising funds to finance the reconstruction.

Earlier in the day, dozens of people gathered in a protest tent erected near the house. The protesters, including MK Abdulmalik Dehamshe (United Arab List), strongly oppose the demolition order issued by the Haifa Municipality.

They vowed to remain at the site until the detention order was lifted.

But by midday, there were signs that the demolition was already underway.

Activist: Family has lived there since Mandate The mayor's office said that the legal procedure to demolish the house, built illegally in an area designated as an industrial zone, began five years ago -a process which according to the mayor's office had passed through all legal channels.

Yoav Bar, an activist working against the house's demolition, said that the evicted family had been living in a clutch of tin-huts and temporary lodgings near the Hazera factory ever since the British mandate, and that they had built a modest building on the site of one of their tin-huts.

According to Bar, the municipality had already cancelled its plans to build a road on the site so that it had no reason to demolish the building, and that it can, at the very least, allow the family to pursue all available legal options to their end.

On Saturday, dozens of protesters waited for Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav outside an event at Beit Hagefen in the city. The protesters, waving banners, clashed with police and demanded that the demolition order be postponed.

According to the police, when Yahav arrived at the scene, a crowd converged on him and threw objects, injuring two policewomen. Yahav was whisked away from the scene by the police.

On Thursday night a spontaneous demonstration was held in front of Yahav's house in the Denya neighborhood, immediately after a demonstration was held in the area of the house slated for demolition.