Israel Kicks Refugees Out of Their Tents

By Ryan Rodrick Beiler 08-03-2009

090527-2326-palestineIn most cases in Occupied Palestine at this point, Palestinian refugees live in UN-administered camps that are essentially urban slums--overcrowded apartment blocks with high rates of poverty. But there are still some refugees that live in tents. Case in point--when I posted some favorite images on my photo blog from my recently posted Israel-Palestine gallery, I included this one of Fawzieh al-Kurd.

She has lived in a tent within sight of her home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem since November 2008 when Israeli settlers took over her home with the help of Israeli police. Her husband died of a heart attack two weeks later. She's been encamped here since on a patch of ground owned by a Palestinian who has given her permission to stay there--within sight of the home built by Jordan and the UN in 1956 for her and other refugees forced from their original homes when the state of Israel was established in 1948. (Read a more detailed account of her struggle, written by an Israeli-American activist, here.)

That is, until a few days ago. On his way to church on Sunday, MCC rep. Ryan Lehman took photos and posted them on Facebook, showing a vacant lot where her tent had been, now full of Israeli police vans. Apparently they have demolished her tent once again--making this the seventh time they've done so.

Two other families were removed from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a move that has received far more international press coverage and strongly worded statements from the international community. We'll see if those condemnations are backed up with actions that inspire the Israeli government to change its policy.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners and a photographer whose work can be seen at www.ryanrodrickbeiler.com. He traveled to Israel and Palestine in May of this year on assignment with Mennonite Central Committee.

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