ByÂ Brendan WiebeÂ
Two years ago I had the honour of being part of a study tour to the Middle East.Â There were many great perspective-altering experiences that took place.Â One of the events that was organized for us was a guided tour by a Non-Profit Israeli Peace organization.Â The Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions or ICAHD is an Organization that helps advocate against the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
ICAHD is an organization that is run by Israeli citizens that stand with Palestinian homeowners in times of need.Â They act as a witness to the actions against the Palestinian people.Â Every summer they have rebuild camp where they rebuild homes that have been demolished.Â It is reassuring to see that there are people in Israel who are striving for peace when their government appears not to be.
The tour began with an information session, where we were told about some of the places where ICAHD is involved as well as an overview of the history of Israel. We then got on a bus and took a short tour where we were shown how large Israeli settlements are.Â Our tour ended with us going to the house of a man named Salim where we ate and discussed why houses are being demolished.Â Salim told us his story and how his home had been demolished 4 times since 1994 when a demolition order was sent to him.
This tour with ICAHD was very eye opening and really put into perspective what I had heard the organizations founder speak about the year before when he gave a lecture at CMU.Â Hearing the story about this house, which had been dedicated as a center for peace was frustrating.Â I find it so difficult to understand how people can treat each other so poorly.
This experience got me started on trying to understand more events in Palestine/Israel.Â Since my visit to the Middle East I have subscribed to monthly email newsletters from ICAHD, as a way of staying informed.Â I was shocked and saddened on January 24 when I received a newsletter saying that the previous night there were a number of homes that had been demolished, by the Israeli military.Â When I read further I discovered that one of the homes that had been demolished was the home of Salim.Â This is the 5th time that the home has been demolished and it will most likely not be the last.
Reading the news hit me in a way that I would not have imagined.Â Having been on the ground in the West Bank really has changed my
viewpoint, and I decided that I had to do my part to bring this injustice to the attention of the Communities that I am a part of.
The Palestine/Israel conflict is a very complex situation and I have far from all the information.Â Â What I do know however is that people need to be made aware of injustices that are being carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.Â The demolitions of houses in the West Bank have left many people with nowhere to go and they are considered Illegal under the Geneva Convention.
If you are interested in finding out more about ICAHD I encourage you to visit their website:Â http://www.icahd.org/.Â To stay informed about the Israel/Palestine conflict, consider visiting The Palestine Chronicle online at:Â http://palestinechronicle.com/.