Israel: Activist arrested for blocking house demolition

Jerusalem, 2 April(AKI) - An Israeli activist was arrested on Wednesday after trying to prevent authorities from demolishing the home of a Palestinian family in a village north of Jerusalem.

Jeff Halper was placed under house arrest by Israeli police after moving to stop the demolition that took place in the village of Anata, north of Jerusalem.

Halper, an anthropology professor, is a member of the non-profit organisation, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

In a telephone interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Halper, said that the Jerusalem municipality had carried out the demolition.

"As Israelis, we are privileged," he told AKI. "They (police) are not going to shoot us if we resist the demolition, but if a Palestinian had done it, they would have certainly shot him."

According to Halper, this is the second time the Hamdan family have had their house demolished by Israeli authorities.

ICAHD rebuilt the first one during an international volunteers summer camp.

Halper said the Hamdan family has Israeli residency, but not Israeli citizenship.

"I have been arrested about eight times," he said, for trying to protest the demolition of Palestinian homes.

"Over 18,000 homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967," Halper added.

He claimed he was arrested because he was "interfering with the enforcement of the authorities duties" but did not know how long he would remain under house arrest.

According to Halper, the home was officially demolished because the family built it without a permit – a rule that Israel insists applies equally to everyone regardless of race or religion.

But it is nearly impossible for Palestinian-Arab families to obtain a permit to build a home, prompting many to leave the city and its surrounding areas altogether.

Police in Anata confirmed that Halper had been placed under house arrest. But a spokesman told AKI that it was a decision made by the Israeli courts and that Halper knew why he had been placed under arrest.

Anata is a small village of 8,000 inhabitants, all Palestinian.

ICAHD defines itself as a direct-action group comprised of Israeli peace and human rights organisations. It was established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories.

On the organisation's website, Halper says a Palestinian state should be created as " an absolute prerequisite for a just and lasting peace" and Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories was creating "a system of apartheid" that was untenable in the long term.


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