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Hamas to demolish 75 houses built on public lands

Feb. 12, 2013 8:32 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 6:21 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Members of the Abu Amrah family in Gaza City demonstrated Tuesday in front of offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council protesting a decision by the Hamas-run government to demolish 75 houses belonging to the family in the al-Rimal neighborhood.

The government says it decided to demolish the houses because they were illegally built on public lands. The demolition is scheduled to be conducted Wednesday morning.

"We are refugees and we have been living in this area for tens of years," Abu Salah Abu Amra told Ma'an. He highlighted that the PLC in Gaza suggested five new areas where the families could choose to move.

But he said all these areas are underpopulated border areas and have no services. He urged officials in the Gaza government to suggest moving the families to populated areas, preferably not far from where they live now. He noted that it would be very difficult to send their children to schools if they live in remote areas.

Another resident, Hazim Abu Hmeid, who lives in the area slated for demolition, appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh to annul the demolition highlighting that 75 families will be left homeless.

"Demolition will take place Wednesday morning, and when our children come back from school, they will not know where to go because by the time they arrive, their houses will have disappeared. The only place they will have is the street in this cold winter time."

A spokeswoman in the Gaza land department, Amal Shamali, told Ma'an that the alternative places the government suggested are populated and have services.

She pointed out that her department contacted dignitaries from the Abu Amrah family several months ago, and suggested that they move to either al-Andalus neighborhood in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, or to the Beisan housing project in the north. They opposed moving to Beisan, and so it was decided to move the families to al-Andalus neighborhood.

Months ago, the Gaza land department demolished another area belonging to the same family, and offered the residents tracts of land in the northern Gaza Strip to be bought by installments. Some families agreed while 36 families refused the offer.
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