I am… managing Palestinian rehabilitation
Rami Khader fights the fear of demolitions in Palestine
When you ask people what home means to them, many will say that, as well as a physical space, it is their homeland, the land of their ancestors, a cause they fight for, something that reflects their very humanity. This is especially true in Palestine, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1948.
After a tiring day, we all need a safe place, a familiar place, with secure boundaries. A place where we can rest, bring up a family. Every human needs a place that is theirs, where they can enjoy privacy and feel safe. For many families in Palestine, these basic human needs become impossible after they receive a demolition order.
Before the Israeli government takes a Palestinian’s land and demolishes their home it will issue a demolition order. You may be familiar with this from the recent international news attention around Sheik Jarah, Silwan, and the like. I’m deeply aware of the negative impact such demolition orders have on the wellbeing and growth of children and their families. When the home is threatened, even before the physical demolition of the structure, there is an immediate increase in anxiety and distress felt around the prospect of losing one’s only safe space. This psychological toll dehumanises everyone in the family and is especially damaging to the social and emotional development of children. Apart from the immediate trauma of receiving the notice, families find they are living with constant fear, isolation and absence of safety.
Parents and families feel helpless as they are unable to protect their children, as their ability to provide care and safety is threatened by the demolition of their home. It can become agonising to be in the home, many of which have been in families for generations and are places where they shared fond memories together, as they begin to imagine a future where this home is gone, and they wander the streets looking for a place to stay.
Despite the resounding resilience of the Palestinian people, especially children, decades of multi-generational occupation, dehumanisation, denial of basic human rights, and lack of access to justice often result in a dramatic increase in psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering…
Rami Khader is Director of the East Jerusalem YMCA’s Rehabilitation Programme. This article originally ran on the Embrace the Middle East ‘Beyond the News Blog’. Find more of their content here: https://embraceme.org/blog
This is an extract from an article published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of Reform