A mass demonstration will be held today, Friday, November 30, in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod (al-Ludd in Arabic) in the center of the country after governmental authorities demolished a three-story building owned by Arab-Palestinians during the course of this week, leaving the families living there homeless.
The building belonged to the Shaaban family and was demolished under the pretext of being built without a permit. The Shaaban family said that municipal authorities delivered a demolition order several months ago, to which the family filed an appeal against the its execution.
In response, the Arab-Palestinian rights group Adalah noted that only 4.6% of new homes built in Israel are in Arab towns and villages, even though Arab-Palestinians account for over 20% of the population.
The state’s intentional formulation of bureaucratic difficulties for Arabs citizens of Israel to obtain building permits forces thousands of them to expand existing homes or build entirely new houses of structures without permits. All such structures are subsequently vulnerable to demolition orders, as in the present case, at the whim of timing determined by the state.
In July of 1948, during the first Arab–Israeli War, most of the city’s 20,000 Arab residents were expelled from the city, along with about 30,000 additional Palestinian Arabs who sought refuge there after fleeing from there own towns and villages in the vicinity. The town was resettled by Jewish immigrants, most of them from Arab countries, alongside between 700 and 1,056 Muslim and Christian Arabs who remained, but were prohibited from returning to their own homes.
Today, the remaining Arab-Palestinian decedents of those who stayed in the city with a total population of about 75,000 (with an Arab minority of more than 20,000), are all oxymoronically considered to “present-absentees” with no legal rights over the homes and other property their families owned before the 1948 war. This perpetual status, which is shared by about a fifth of the 1.8 million Arab citizens of Israel, severely exacerbates their vulnerability to the arbitrary and hostile dictates of the state.