"My name is Mohammed Abed El- Hafeth Samarra. I am 27 years old and live in Brukim, a small village to the west of Salfit district. I have two children; Abed El-Hafeth and Salma. I left school when I was 13 because of the bad situation that my family faced. I became an apprentice in construction with a professional builder in the village. I worked from the morning in to the evening for 20 Shekels a day. I persevered with the work wishing that my children would not have to work under such condition. After 6 months I was able to work alone and I worked in the 1948 areas. What I can earn there is maybe five times what I can earn in my village in the West Bank."

Mohammed faced many difficulties during this time. The Occupation Forces beat him badly on many occasions and arbitrary closures prevented him from getting to work. Nevertheless, he continued to work when he could and save money to earn money for his family and future.


"In 2000 I was able to get married and buy land to build a house. My wife and I lived in one room of my parent's house while I earned enough money to build our home. We used that one room for everything, a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. It wasn't big enough, but what could I do? I continued to work in the 48 areas, despite the conditions, because I also had two children to look after, Abed and Salma."

During this time the second Intifada began and working in the 1948 areas became impossible. I used the money that I had saved, as well as some my parents gave me, to start building the house, but it wasn't enough. I found a way to enter the 1948 areas illegally, and began staying for two or three periods. Although I tried to avoid the soldiers, they caught me on one occasion. I was detained for 24 hours and had to sign a document promising not to try and leave the West Bank again.

Staying at home, with nothing to do, was extremely difficult for him. Work on his house stopped due to the lack of money, and he couldn't provide the basics for his wife or his children. "The situation became so intolerable that I risked going back to the 1948 areas to work. I managed to enter and this time I stayed for periods from anywhere between 2 and 6 months, saving every Shekel that I earned. Each new brick of my home gave me the strength and courage I needed to re-enter, but in February 2005 I was arrested again. This time I was imprisoned for 40 days and also had to pay a 2000 Shekel fine. Since I was released, I have stayed in the West Bank. I am getting so frustrated being at home all the time. Every now and then I find work, but it is low paid (about 50 Shekels) and infrequent. Life has become very difficult for me, and my family."

By winter 2004 the house was nearly complete. They were so happy. The house cost 150,000 NIS and had 3 bedrooms, living room, bathroom, kitchen and also a balcony. It also had a well, so they would always have easy access to water. He began seeing soldiers taking pictures of the house and was really confused. "I thought that they were photographing my house because it had a prime location on the mountain at north west of the village and illustrated the whole area well. I thought they were taking pictures of the beautiful area and was shocked to discover that they intended to demolish the house."

"Initially I thought that the papers I found by the front door were accidentally dropped by a soldier. They were written in Hebrew and I couldn't understand anything. But then I saw the small print in Arabic. It explained that these papers were demolition orders for my house and the land upon which it stood. I wanted to tear the paper up, or throw it away as I refused to believe that the demolition order was really for me. But what if it was for me? What should I tell my wife? She had been planning for the move, and was looking forward to decorating the house and making it our home. What should I say to my children? They were so excited whenever they visited, and laughed and played in the garden. Was I to tell them that no one cared about all the hard work that we had done? That everything that we had worked for over the last few years was lost?"


The leader of the municipality advised him to consult a lawyer, which he did immediately. Occupation officials informed his lawyer that Mohammad didn't have permission to build the house, and that was why it was being demolished. He produced all the correct documentation, showing that he had permission from the relevant authorities. At this point the Occupation officials argued that since the house was located on the border of the Ariel settlement, which was going to be expanded, the house was being demolished. After this, the lawyer was told that the house was on a proposed military road and then finally, they explained that the land was being taken to make way for the Wall.

"My family and I have stayed in our home. We still don't know what our future will be. Two or three times a week Occupation Forces come to photograph the house and the changes we have made. When I ask what will happen to us and our home, they tell me it is none of my business. I don't know what I will do if they confiscate our home."

In total 3 houses in Brukim are set to be demolished for the Apartheid Wall. Another 13 also look set for demolition by the Occupation Forces who have told villagers that they do not have the correct papers.



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