JERUSALEM (AA): On the side of a hill with a sweeping view of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, near the rubble of a demolished home in a district of East Jerusalem, activists and members of the local community broke their Ramadan fasts together on Wednesday.
They gathered next to a pile of crushed stone and twisted steel — once the home of the Fawaqa family — to share a meal and their stories of Israeli bulldozers leveling Palestinian houses in occupied East Jerusalem.
Members of the Fawaqa family had been at the hospital with their newborn baby when Israeli forces demolished their home in Sur Baher, a neighborhood on the city’s fringes.
“The home was destroyed and now we can’t stay in it,” Ashraf Faqawa told Anadolu Agency, recalling the sight that met him when he returned from the hospital.
Since their home was destroyed in early May, members of the family have remained in a tent they set up next to what had once been their home.
Ashraf’s wife recalled how their three young daughters had been confused when they came back from school.
“They asked me, ‘How is there no house?’ They had left in the morning and returned to this problem. This is our situation,” she lamented.
Palestinian lawyers and activists — along with others whose homes were demolished — shared their stories at the sunset gathering, breaking their fasts with a spread made up of their own contributions and donations from local Palestinian businesses.
When the breakfast’s organizers visited Palestinian shops in East Jerusalem to tell them about the event, shopkeepers told them to take whatever they needed.
“House demolition was the most terrible event I have gone through in my life,” said Nureddin Amro, the founder of a school for blind children in East Jerusalem’s Wadi al-Joz district, whose family was asleep when Israeli bulldozers came to their home in 2015.
“It’s a demolishing of humanity,” he said, “a demolishing of human beings, a demolishing of life.”
“My kids suffered very difficult psychological problems. They cannot forget it easily,” he added sadly.
Israel’s policy on home demolitions generally targets structures ostensibly built without construction permits, which Palestinians say are expensive and hard to come by.
Last year, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded almost 1,100 home demolitions or seizures by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to the same agency, the practice has continued — at an unprecedented rate — since the beginning of 2017.