Ten Israeli Arabs Wounded in Clashes With Police During House Demolition

Three detained in northern town, as local council announces strike in protest of demolition ■ Activists say authorities expand policy of demolitions in Arab towns

Ruins of a house demolished by the Israeli authorities, Arara, northern Israel, July 24, 2019.
Amir Levy

Ten Israeli Arabs were wounded Wednesday in clashes with police during a house demolition in an Arab town in northern Israel.

Three people, including the house owner's son, were arrested for obstructing officers and disrupting public order, but released later on Wednesday. The owner's son was handed a restraining order forcing him to keep away from the area.

Israeli forces entered the town of Arara, southwest of Nazareth, at around 3 A.M. to demolish the Marzuq family home, which authorities say had been built without permission, and carried out the demolition over the course of about four hours. Police said rocks were hurled at the forces, but no injuries among police were reported.

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The Arara local council went on strike on Wednesday, and it is expected to announce further measures in protest of the demolition, which activists say is a part of a governmental policy to expand house demolitions in Arab towns.

The most recent one came on Monday, when Israeli forces demolished 70 homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Hummus, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, in a move criticized by human rights organizations and foreign countries.

Community organizer Ahmed Melhem, who provides assistance to families with standing demolition orders in the Arara area, argued the Israeli authorities are using it as a way to harass the owners. House demolitions are "one of the cruelest tools there are," he said, adding that Israel has increased the use of hefty fines imposed on owners.

"Though it is a building erected without permission on an agricultural land, it does not obstruct any project or program, and an arrangement for it could have been found," Melhem said.

Hadash lawmaker Yousef Jabareen accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "scoring points ahead of the election" with the Wadi Hummus and Arara demolitions, and wrote on Twitter, "Netanyahu is speaking to Arab-Palestinians in a single language: The language of force, of demolition and of destruction; the language of Jewish supremacy that exists in the nation-state law."

Human rights activist Jafar Farah, the head of the Mossawa Advocacy Center, said Netanyahu was "increasing the wave of house demolitions, in an attempt to generate an enemy from within and divert public discourse from his own failures."