Jan 8, 2021
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Mohammed Abu Shteiwi was woken up on the morning of Jan. three by the roar of the bulldozers of the Hamas police pressure near town of Rafah within the southern Gaza Strip. The dredging operations are one of many largest that included demolitions and bulldozing of Palestinian houses and farms on an space of 55 dunums (13.6 acres) east of Rafah.
The Abu Shteiwi household is certainly one of 23 households which have lived in and cultivated this space of land for many years. They had been stunned by these bulldozers coming to place an finish to their presence within the space, claiming the lands are government-owned. On Dec. 15, the Palestinian Land Authority affiliated with Hamas within the Gaza Strip issued a choice to expropriate these lands with the goal to develop the Rafah land crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for industrial functions.
The residents of those lands — males, girls, youngsters and the aged — confronted the Hamas safety forces as they began destroying their houses and uprooting their timber. Residents hurled stones at them and their bulldozers. Local sources instructed Al-Monitor that Hamas’ safety forces arrested 9 residents and assaulted dozens of others.
Abu Shteiwi instructed Al-Monitor, “We have been living on this land and cultivating it for more than 40 years — that is, before Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and even before the founding of Hamas in 1987.”
He added, “We were surprised by what happened. The bulldozers arrived, escorted by dozens of Hamas security forces who asked us to evacuate our homes and leave our farms where we live. They told us that they needed them to expand the Rafah crossing. They turned a deaf ear to our pleas to stop the demolitions. The families who live on these lands have no other shelter.”
On Jan. 4, Abu Shteiwi posted on his Facebook web page movies and images exhibiting his displaced relations getting into a tent. He commented, “No person has the right to take away my home, my property, my farms, … under the pretext that the lands are government-owned.”
Mofid al-Arja, head of a household of seven that additionally was displaced from land in Rafah, instructed Al-Monitor, “Our only job is cultivating this land and selling its crops in the markets. Now we are homeless and jobless.”
Arja known as on Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar to supply monetary compensation to the affected residents and supply them with housing and jobs.
Maher Abu Sabha, head of the Palestinian Land Authority within the Gaza Strip, instructed Al-Monitor, “These lands are government-owned and their residents do not hold title deeds proving their ownership. We allowed them to live on these lands and cultivate them but this does not mean they have acquired them. These lands are being expropriated for a public benefit, which is the expansion of the Rafah land crossing.”
Ashraf al-Shaer, one of many notables and elders of the Rafah tribes, instructed Al-Monitor, “Hamas’ allegations that these lands are government-owned are not true. They are registered at the real-estate property department of the municipality of Rafah as nongovernment lands. All the houses built on them are licensed by the municipality and receive all municipal services.”
He added, “In the event of a dispute between the authorities and the owners of these lands regarding the claim that these lands are government-owned, the authorities ought to resort to the judiciary. But the authorities forcibly expelled the residents from these lands.”
Meanwhile, Mayor of Rafah Anwar al-Shaer issued an announcement on his Facebook web page Jan. 4, denouncing the expropriation of those lands by a choice of the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Land Authority and its enforcement by its police.
In his assertion, Shaer stated, “The Land Authority has confiscated an area of 55 dunums of citizens’ lands in al-Salam neighborhood, east of Rafah, for the purpose of expanding the Rafah commercial crossing based on a government decision to expropriate these lands.”
He defined that this process and its subsequent execution had been deliberate with out referring to the related authorities, particularly the Rafah municipality, and the homeowners of those lands.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Shaer stated, “Government authorities must reconsider the decision to expropriate these lands given its disastrous repercussions on their inhabitants, who are left without jobs or shelter. These lands have been exploited for decades for agricultural and residential purposes and it is illogical to expropriate them simply because their residents do not have a title deed.”
He defined that greater than 90% of the lands of Rafah are inhabited by greater than 155,000 residents as we speak who should not have a title deed. Should the federal government expropriate these lands, a lot of the metropolis’s residents can be displaced from their houses, he warned.
The Hamas safety forces’ actions in Rafah had been met with widespread anger from residents on social media.
Journalist Tamer Qeshta wrote on Facebook Jan. 5, “The [denouncing] position of the Rafah municipality regarding the project to expand the crossing, the expropriation of lands and the demolition of homes and greenhouses proves beyond any doubt that the ruling authority is a totalitarian authority and is continuously working to control all aspects of life as much as possible.”
In his touch upon the assertion of the Rafah municipality, lawyer Hamdan Abu Omran urged the affected folks to file lawsuits for redress and compensation for the houses and farms that had been destroyed.
Activists launched a Facebook web page Jan. Four in help of these whose lands had been confiscated west of the Rafah border crossing. The web page paperwork demolitions, the uprooting of timber and displacement of residents, and requires returning these lands to their homeowners.