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An appeal for solidarity concerning the threatening demolition of a Palestinian house

by Astrid Essed Tuesday, Mar. 08, 2005 at 3:15 AM

Underlying information isn't only revealing a highly condemnable event, but especially symbols the Israeli policy of mass land and house-exproprations within Israel at the cost of a great number of Israeli Arabs.

Dear Indymedia-readers,

By means of this article I want to ask your attention for the threatening demolition of a Palestinian house.

Although this doesn't concern the Occupied Territories, but Israel itself, you'll agree with me, that yet apart from the committed injustice, this house demolition is also a serious violation of the international judicial rules.

It concerns a house, belonging to the Zbidat-Kosterman family in the municipality Sakhim, an Arab village in North-Israel [with a distance of 40 minutes from Haifa].

Perhaps you're already familiar with the activities of mrs Trees Zbidat-Kosterman, a very socially engaged woman, who is working since a couple of years as a fundraiser and social worker on behalf of the Arab female-organisation Al-Zahraa in Sakhim, which has as main goal the economical and educational emancipation of Arab women.

She is originally Dutch and married with the Israeli Arab Ali Zbidat.

At 1994 she returned to Sakhim with her husband and two children, leaving the Netherlands, where the family had been living for eight years.


Undoubtedly you are familiar with the fact, that during the war in 1948, which followed the foundation of the State of Israel, more than 750.000 autochtone Arab inhabitants were expelled from their lands and homes by zionist militias.

Less familiar however is the fact, that by a number of laws at the beginning of the 1950's the expropriation or declaration into ''military Security Zone'' took place of a great part of the lands of the thus expelled Palestinian population, a measure which also stroke a great number of the remaining Palestinian inhabitants of the Arab villages, among else Sakhim.

It is evident that by those token measures thousands of people lost their lands and properties, which is yet apart from the fragrant injustice, not only in contrary with UN-resolution 194 [dd 1948] which demanded the return of the refugees or else the financial compensation for their lost properties, but as far as it concerns the Palestinians, who remained in Israel, also in contarily with the international-judicial principle, that expropriation of land can't take place without financial compensation.

The establishment of Jewish-Israeli living-communities

As being referred before, the Arab village Sakhim also was being stroken heavily by the aready named land-expropriations.

However, in the 1980's the situation detoriated even more by the establishment of a big Israeli-Jewish living-community Misgav, which was legally given the status of a ruling municipality, which led to a number of disagreeable changements for Sakhim and the surrounding Arab villages.

1 Location-dominance

In the first place a major problem lied in the fact, that due to the applied building-strategy Misgav encircled as well Sakhim as a number of other neighbouring Arab villages.

Moreover, Misgav was built from a geografically higher place than the referred Arab villages [for a great part on the hills, while the villages were located lower], which also implied a political-strategic control-mechanism against the Arab inhabitants of the villages.

2 Confiscation and jurisdiction:

In the second place the Sakhim agricultural lands, which were expropriated by the Israeli State in the 1960's, the 1970's and the 1980's, passed into the jurisdiction of Misgav Council with as a consequence, that the 15.000 inhabitants of Misgav have the control over more than 180.000 dunums of land, including the confiscated agricultural grounds in Sakhim.

However the Sakhim village, consisting of 25.000 inhabitants, is owning only 9500 dunums of land, from which moreover 5000 dunums are under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Misgav.

3 Practical consequences of the Misgav-jurisdiction:

One of the practical problems of this Misgav-jurisdiction is stemming from the fact, that Misgav has the authority to decide, whether the referred land can be used merely as agricultural land [the so-called ''agricultural zone''] or can also be used as building land, which includes the building of houses.

When the Misgav municipality refuses to give building-permission, house-builders take the risk to get a demolition-order for the house.

However, since in most cases the Misgav-municipality refuses to give a building-permission, despite the house is being build on the very lands of the inhabitants, many people are enforced to build without permission, with the great risk of being demolished.

B The problem of the Zbidat-Kosterman family

The specific problem of the Zbidat-Kosterman family is the following:

The father of mr. Ali Zbidat posessed 6 dumans of land, which was regarded by Misgav as being agricultural land, which implied, that a permission for house-building was necessary.

When the Zbidat-Kosterman family returned to Sakhim in 1994, the father of mr. Zbidat handed them over a piece of the land in order to be in the opportunity to build a home.

By doing the request for building a house it appeared, that the Misgav municipality had revised the border between them and Sakhim, which implied the annexation of the land of the father of mr Zbidat.

Every request for building-permission was rejected with the argumentation, that it concerned ''agricultural land''

The consequence was, that the family initially stayed at a brother of mr Zbidat, but eventually in 1999 took the decision to put a caravan on the referred ground, which resulted in a fine by Misgav, which was the first in a numerous series of fines.

When the family eventually took the decision to build a real house on this ground [may, 1999], a accumulation of problems started.

The Misgav municipality threatenened with a house-demolition, which didn't took plave, probably due to the fact, that the family actually was living in the house.

However, the arrest of mr. Zbidat followed, with an acculumation of fines, intimidations etc.

After a period of ''relative quiet'' [the fines and the intimidations were continued, but the house-demolition was temporarily suspended] however a house demolition is treathening within two months.

The judicial verdict dd february 2005 ruled namely, that the family has to pay a hugh fine and is obliged to get a living-permission from Misgav between two months , which is highly improbable, since is is the very Misgav-municipality, which has refused any living-permission from the very begin.

Although those events didn't take place in the Occupied Territories, I'm convinced that you''ll agree with me, that this above described case is also an example of fragrant injustice.

Therefore I would appreciate it very much when you would give as much publicity as possible to this case within your own network and other important organisations or solidarity-networks.

Also I would appreciate it highly, when you would take in consideration to develop concrete solidarity-actions, either within your own network or in cooperation with other solidarity-organisations.

Those actions could take the form of written testimonies of solidarity to the Zbidat-Kosterman family or the developments of further actions in deliberation with the Zbidat-Kosterman-family.

The e-mailaddress of mrs Trees Zbidat-Kosterman is

She has given me her permission for publication of her e-mailaddress.

I would be very grateful to you, when you would respond my appeal for solidarity to the Zbidat-Kosterman-family, not only on behalf of the Zbidat-Kosterman family as such, but also because this threatening house-demolition is not a case on its won, but is also representative for the already committed or yet to be committed house and land-demolitions of Israeli Arabs within Israel itself.

Further I have the friendly request to you, not to ventilate possible questions or information-requests in the underlying category ''comments'' since I am seldom in the opportunity to read them.

Therefore I will request to you to ventilate your questions and possible proposals for solidarity-support direcly to mrs Trees Zbidat-Kosterman herself, who will be glad to respond all your questions or proposals.

I trust, that you'll use the above-named e-mailaddress only to ventilate your messages of support and sympathy or possible proposals for solidarity-actions.

Finally I wish you the best regards and I thank you in advance for your symptahy and solidarity with the Zbidat-Kosterman family.

Astrid Essed


The Netherlands

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