Friday, March 06, 2009

" Suddenly, Home Was Gone" -- Eva Bartlett

Portion below; whole thing here:
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza, Mar 6 (IPS) - Dates in the calendar to mark the rights of women mean little to Manwa Tarrabin (56) and her two daughters. They have lost home, and any rights to it.

Until Jan. 17, they were living in a small bungalow in the Al-Amal quarter of Beit Hanoun, within 200 metres of Gaza's eastern border, in a region declared by the Israeli authorities a 'closed military zone'.

Prior to the three weeks of Israeli air, sea and land attacks on Gaza it had been a tidy home at the top of a slight rise, surrounded by open fields and a smattering of olive and fruit trees. Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops, the house is a pancake of angles and debris, one of 80 homes demolished in the Beit Hanoun border area.

A dirt path leading to the Tarrabin house crosses agricultural land torn up by tank and bulldozer tracks, and passes numerous former homes, likewise demolished on the day before Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire.

A farming and herding family, the Tarrabins lived off what their sheep and goats produced, and what they could sow in the fertile agricultural land around them. After the attacks began Dec. 27, they continued to stay in the house. On the afternoon of their forced eviction, Manwa and her daughter Sharifa (22) were in the house.

"I was so scared when I saw the tanks. My heart dropped to my feet," Tarrabin said, recounting how the Israeli army demolished her house.

"It was around 2.30 pm on Jan. 17, and we were inside our house when I heard the tanks. There were four of them and two bulldozers, one of them very, very large. The Israeli soldiers shouted at us over a megaphone to leave the house.

"They told me our house was now in a closed military zone," Manwa said. "They said it was a 'decision from the top' and that we had to leave immediately and walk towards Gaza. I refused, and tried to negotiate with them for time to gather our belongings. They refused."

Tarrabin said she and her daughter were forced from the house with only the clothes they were wearing, without even time to take their identity cards or personal items.

"We walked down the track from our house and when we were far enough away, I stopped to watch the soldiers." At approximately 5 pm, less than 12 hours before Israel declared a ceasefire, Israeli soldiers bulldozed the Tarrabins' house.

This demolition came in an area that had been under Israeli military control since early January after Israeli tanks rolled over the border.

Since 2000, areas all along the Green Line border have been off limits to Palestinians. The area was unilaterally declared a "buffer zone" by Israeli authorities. This zone was expanded from 150 metres to 300 metres, with Israeli soldiers shooting at farmers and residents in the region as far as 600 metres away.

In tandem, Israeli bulldozers and tanks have deliberately destroyed thousands of dunams (one dunam equals 1,000 square metres) of Palestinian farmland within and well beyond the buffer zone, as well as the poultry and other farms in the region, some even 2.5 kilometres from the border with Israel.

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