A Darlington man gave up two weeks of his time to help rebuild a house that had been demolished by the Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank.
Martin Wood travelled with a group of 30 other volunteers who between them had raised over £45,000 towards the rebuild costs.
The work on the building site included moving rubble and levelling the site, installing shuttering and steel for the concrete structure, and forming human chains to deliver materials to the site.
The home was rebuilt for a Palestinian family who had been living in a refugee camp but had managed to buy a piece of land and build a home.
They had invested everything they had, but the Israeli military authorities demolished the home two weeks before they were due to move in, as the part of their land that they had built on was within a boundary of land that the Israeli military authorities had unilaterally declared as ‘state land’.
The team relocated the new home on the family’s land but outside of the contested area.
Martin said: “The demolition of homes is part of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the West Bank. While there, I was distressed to meet Abu Mohammed, a Palestinian man who had lost his home last year, he was in a wheelchair because he had lost a leg to an Israeli military bulldozer while defending his family’s well.
“Within just one week of returning I heard about the shooting of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and then learned that the Israeli courts had signed off the clearance of another 13 villages in the Masafer Yatta area, south of Hebron, in the illegally occupied territory. It seems that Israel is escalating its activity in the West Bank.
“The demolitions have already begun. While we have brought hope back to a devastated family by rebuilding their home there are thousands more who live with the daily threat of expulsion. I call on my MP to take concrete action and on the UK Government to place sanctions on Israel until they honour international law and stop the displacement of the Palestinian people.”
A representative of the Amos Trust said: “Our home rebuilding programme in the occupied West Bank is a key plank in our Change the Record campaign for Palestinian rights. We aim to highlight the injustice of home demolitions, stand in solidarity with Palestinian families facing apartheid and offer Amos Trust supporters and activists the opportunity to help build tangible hope.
“The system of planning and building controls operated by the Israeli military authorities, who have sole civil and security responsibility in Area C of the West Bank, is clearly part of an apartheid system that denies Palestinians their rights and makes it incredibly difficult to maintain their presence and flourish on their own land.”