On Wednesday morning, Israeli Forces attacked many Palestinians and demolished two houses in Wallaja village, west of the city of Beit Jala. A number of Palestinians were injured.
The soldiers, who used Caterpillar D9 bulldozers in the destruction, claimed that the houses were demolished because they were built without a license.
Although Israeli forces claim, every time they destroy a Palestinian home, that the home was built without a license, Palestinians who have tried to go through the costly process of attempting to obtain a license for building have always been denied, as no licenses have been granted to Palestinians since 1967.
Wallaja village lies in the path of a planned high-speed train line that Israel is attempting to build from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
It is also home to one of the most steadfast populations of Palestinians who committed themselves in 1987 to non-violent resistance, and have kept that pledge for many years, despite the ongoing Israeli demolition of their village, house by house.
Every week the residents of Wallaja gather for non-violent demonstrations against the destruction of their village, and every week Israeli forces attack the non-violent demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition.
Wallaja villagers live in an absurd situation. Part of the village was annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, but most of its land remained in the West Bank. All the residents continued to hold orange [Palestinian] ID cards, and so were unaware of their confused status. Only when bulldozers of the Jerusalem Municipality arrived in 1987 and demolished the first house that was built without a permit did the scale of the confusion begin to come clear.
Today 500 people live in the area that was annexed to Israel and 1,700 live in Areas B and C [Israeli-defined areas under partial or full control of the Palestinian Authority — but still under Israeli military occupation] – the same families, the same village, but under three separate and distinct forms of government. Since 1987, 12 homes have been demolished in the village’s Jerusalem section, by order of the municipality and the Interior Ministry, out of a total of 70 homes, of which 51 were built without permits and whose owners are now in the midst of a pre-demolition judicial process.
Their little corner of the globe, although part of Jerusalem, has not been granted a master plan. But even if there were a master plan, a poster for the Walaja action committee explains, "We would not be able to build homes on our land, because as residents of the West Bank we have no right to submit such a request within the territory of Israel."
In Wednesday’s armed invasion by the Israeli army, three Palestinians were injured. Two were arrested when they stood up to the soldiers demolishing their homes.
Eyewitnesses said that Israel’s bulldozers demolished Mustafa Abu At’tain and Khadir Rabah’s houses.
The owners of the demolished houses were surprised because they did not receive any Israeli advanced notice or warning that their houses were about to be demolished.
During the invasion, Israeli forces declared the area a ‘closed military zone’, and prevented journalists, as well as Israeli and international supporters from entering until the home demolition was complete.
Said the Wallaja action committee, "We look north at the zoo that was built below us, and at Malha and Givat Masua [two new Jewish neighborhoods] which are drawing ever closer to us, at the tremendous groundwork and road-building that is taking place day after day before our eyes, and our hearts are fearful. Are our homes being demolished for the sake of the region’s development plans? … We want to extricate ourselves from the legal thicket and solve the problem according to human logic and natural justice."