Subscribe to ‘Words Of Hope’
Get our emails direct to your Inbox with updates about all our campaigns, trips and events.
Please write to your MP about home demolitions in Palestine. Simply use the text below and amend it to suit. You can find the name and contact details of your MP by visiting members.parliament.uk
In April 2017, a group of 35 UK volunteers from Amos Trust assisted in rebuilding the home of Mahmoud Mahmoud Maher Abu Khyara in the West Bank village of Al Walajah. Six years later, Mahmoud is now married to Inas, and they have three children and are expecting a fourth.
On Monday 29th May 2023, Mahmoud and five other Al Walajah families received a demolition order from the Jerusalem Municipality which stated that his home had been built without permission and that he had until 8th June to demolish it, otherwise the Municipality would, and he would be liable for the costs of the demolition. As a result, Mahmoud and his family will be made homeless with no hope of being able to build again.
We need to act urgently to stop the implementation of these demolition orders, which are a symptom of the wider injustice of the Israeli policy of home demolitions and their planning policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
We ask that you use the template below to write to your MP (by email or letter), asking that they raise this matter as a point of urgency with the Foreign Secretary.
If you have visited the families in Al Walajah or assisted in an Amos home rebuild, please include this information.
— — — — — — —
[Your MP’s name]
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Dear [your MP’s name] MP
Subject: Urgent — Home demolition in Bethlehem scheduled for Thursday 8th June 2023
I am writing to bring to your attention an urgent humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
In April 2017, a group of 35 UK volunteers from Amos Trust assisted in rebuilding the home of Mahmoud Mahmoud Maher Abu Khyara in the West Bank village of Al Wallajah. His original house had been destroyed by the Israeli Defence Force in 2016, despite it being built on land his family had owned for generations.
On Monday 29th May 2023, Mahmoud and his wife Inas, who is expecting their fourth child, received a new demolition order from the Jerusalem Municipality, which stated that his home was built without permission and that he has until 8th June to demolish it, otherwise the Municipality would, and that he would be liable for the costs of the demolition.
Mahmoud and his family will be made homeless with no hope of being able to build again.
The urgency of a response to this humanitarian crisis is vital, but this is also a symptom of the wider injustice of the Israeli policy of home demolitions and their planning policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On the same day Mahmoud received his demolition order, five other families in Al Wallajah also received similar orders.
Please raise the following issues with the Foreign Secretary and ask that the UK Government — as a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention — acts immediately to bring an end to this crisis through:
— — — — — — —
Al Walajah is a small village located 3 miles south of Jerusalem and a similar distance northwest of Bethlehem. In 1948, the population of Al Walajah fled their village. They moved across what was to become the Armistice line at the bottom of the valley onto their agricultural land to re-establish their community there.
In 1967, after Israel seized control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, they annexed East Jerusalem and an additional 64 square kilometres of the surrounding Palestinian villages and towns to create the Greater Jerusalem Municipality.
Part of Al Walajah was included in this annexation. The remainder of the village, not incorporated into the Municipality, was listed under the Oslo Accords as Area C under full Israeli control.
The Al Wallajah village committee has repeatedly tried to apply for permits to the Jerusalem Municipality for families to build on their land in the village. However, the Municipality has refused these, stating that their land is part of a Green Zone and therefore does not have an Urban Plan.
Less than 1% of applications for building permits by Palestinian residents are approved in Greater Jerusalem, which leaves families no option but to build without permission and therefore run the inherent risk of incurring sanctions from the Israeli authorities.
However, alongside the challenges faced by Palestinian residents to build on their own land, between 230,000 and 250,000 Israeli settlers now live in the land annexed to Greater Jerusalem in 1967, predominantly on land that was previously owned by Palestinians.
— — — — — — —
Mahmoud’s family had been saving for many years to build a home for him, their eldest son, on the land next door to their main family home, which they have owned for generations. Mahmoud’s plot lies in the part of the village unilaterally annexed by Israel to the Greater Jerusalem Municipality in 1967. However, they did not receive any benefits from being a Jerusalem resident.
In April 2016, as the house was nearing completion and Mahmoud sleeping inside, 80 members of the Israeli Defence Force surrounded the home and destroyed it.
On hearing this story, Amos Trust and our local Palestinian partners, Holy Land Trust, set about raising the money to rebuild his home and recruited a UK-based volunteer team to work alongside the family and local builders on the reconstruction.
Shortly after its completion in July 2017, Mahmoud received a demolition order on this new house and a fine from the Jerusalem Municipality Court for building without permission. Mahmoud paid this fine; one year later, the demolition order lapsed.
On Monday 29th May, he received this new demolition order from the Jerusalem Municipality stating that he has until 8th June to demolish his home, otherwise the Municipality will destroy it, and he will be liable for the demolition costs. As a result, Mahmoud, Inas and their family will be made homeless with no hope of being able to build again.
We work alongside grass-roots partners in Palestine, South Africa, Nicaragua, Burundi, India and Tanzania.
Reaching children on the streets, addressing their trauma, working with them and their families to reintegrate them into their homes, to realise their rights and recover their future.
Working with local and international peace activists, and partnering with grass-roots projects, to call for a just peace, reconciliation and full equal rights for all Palestinians and Israelis.
Addressing the impact of climate change and the causes of extreme poverty, building sustainable rural communities and empowering them to realise their rights.
Bringing people together to meet our partners from around the world, visiting the communities they work in and seeing their projects in action — building solidarity and lasting friendships.