By Keryn Banks, Jerusalem Team
We have just returned from another house demolition. They are a family of 7; 5 children, the youngest who is 2. The mother is pregnant with her 6th child and now they are homeless.
My colleagues had been at the demolition the few days before, their house had been destroyed, along with the neighbour’s car which was ‘just in the way’ and also got crushed. The father is a refugee whose family are all in Jordan and the mother doesn’t have any close family nearby. They had saved and taken out a loan to build this house which was large enough for their family. Now they were sleeping in their car, still paralyzed with shock at what had happened.
House demolitions are a regular occurrence across Area C in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. People build without building permits because there are no plans for their villages and cities. They build because their families grow and they want to extend their houses.
The International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent had delivered a tent and emergency supplies. We helped them to finish erecting the tent. I wish we had arrived earlier to help them put it up as it wasn’t erected well and I was worried how they would fare in it overnight. The instructions were all in English and they didn’t speak English and had obviously never been on camping holidays before, so their knowledge of putting up a tent was limited.
We fixed the tent and secured it as best we could, praying that it wouldn’t rain during the night as it was already too cold and agreed that we would get in touch with some agencies to see if there was any more help they could access. We promised to come and visit again soon. We left with the 2 year old cradled in her mother’s arms as there was nowhere else for her to nap. The Mother had already explained to us that they didn’t have a bathroom and were having to bother the neighbours and when you’re pregnant you need to use the bathroom a lot. As we left I realised that there were tears running down my cheeks and I quickly wiped them away, my pity will do nothing to help them.