Friday, August 13, 1999 Published at 22:30 GMT 23:30 UK
World: Middle East
A Palestinian family's black day
Israeli authorities say the house had no permit
By Jerusalm Correspondent Hilary Andersson
It was a black day in the Palestinian village of Walabi when Israeli bulldozers destroyed two houses.
There had been hopes that Ehud Barak's new government would change the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes near Jerusalem.
The men from the village came in fury and at least were able to help rescue the furniture.
The Israeli police tried to stop them. Emotions flared but it was fists against guns and the Palestinians were helpless.
"Where is the peace the politicians talk about? Is this it?" they yelled. "We can never trust the Jews again."
This is just one case, but 3,000 homes have been demolished like this within the last three years and hundreds more are slated for demolition.
The Israelis say this is merely the practical consequence of building without a permit, but the Palestinians here see it as a deliberate policy to clear the land for the Israelis.
The woman and her husband that own the land the house was built on have the deeds to prove it. But the paperwork is almost useless, for Palestinians are not allowed to build here.
The village is very near Jerusalem and the Israelis want to keep Jerusalem Jewish. Thirty-six more houses in the village are under threat.
Israel's Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said that all over the world, when a house was built illegally, something had to be done about it.
"I guess in Britain you do something about it as well. Here, it becomes an issue because it is entangled with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the peace process."
Fight for land
The issue though is thoroughly entangled with the peace process.
The men of the village then headed off for evening prayers in a mosque which, itself, could be demolished soon.
The family is left to camp out by the ruins of their old house.
The woman used to think that Arabs and Israelis could co-exist.
Now, she says she cannot even teach her children a message of peace.