Sana Abdallah
The Middle East Times
March 6, 2009 - 1:00am

It has been speculated that the attack by a 26-year-old Palestinian man ramming a bulldozer into an Israeli police car in Jerusalem was linked to Israeli plans to demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, widely believed to be part of the Jewish state's strategy to change the face of the holy city by expelling its Arab residents.

Palestinian sources said that the man who attacked the police car on Thursday, Mirii al-Radaydeh, was a resident of East Jerusalem and married with one child. He had no history of militancy and acted alone, suggesting that he was responding in rage against escalating Israeli policies against Arab Jerusalemites.

Radaydeh was the fourth Palestinian driver of a construction vehicle to go on the rampage against Israelis in West Jerusalem since last July.

Palestinian officials are warning that protests against evictions, demolitions, expanding Jewish settlements and attempts to consolidate the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem will turn more violent if these measures are not reversed.

Thursday's attack, which the Israelis called a "terrorist" act, slightly injured the two policemen in their police car before the Palestinian was shot dead by a nearby policeman and a passing taxi driver.

Palestinian officials and analysts have linked the incident to the Jerusalem municipality's eviction orders of more than 1,500 Palestinians living in some 180 houses in the East Jerusalem suburb of Silwan area.

It will become the largest mass expulsion of Palestinians since the Israeli occupation in the 1967 war.

Palestinian groups reported that the municipality handed down 36 new eviction orders on Thursday, and 55 to other Palestinian families on Wednesday, adding to the 88 similar orders to al-Bustan neighborhood in Silwan late last month.

The Israeli authorities, citing that the houses were built without permits, are seeking to link al-Bustan to a green belt area surrounding the walled Old City and turn it into theme park to draw more tourists.

The Palestinians, however, say many of the homes have been there for generations and that the newer houses had to be built to accommodate natural growth. All the while the Israeli authorities have forbidden construction permits to the Arabs, while authorizing construction only to Jews.

The area was a farming village with orchards irrigated by an ancient spring before Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian control and later annexed it to become part of the "eternal and undivided capital of Israel."

The international community has not recognized the annexation of the area, home to a quarter million Arabs and which the Palestinians seek as the capital of their promised future state.

The Palestinian Al-Quds Center for Social and Economic Rights said in a report that more than 200 Arab homes have been threatened with demolition since the beginning of the year.

It said the Israeli authorities have already torn down 30 homes this year alone in the Jerusalem area.

The Israeli B'Tselem human rights group said the Israeli authorities have demolished 350 Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem since 2004, again citing no permits.

Arab and Israeli human rights groups, as well as world governments, have warned against following through with the demolitions and expulsions.

However, they have done nothing more when demolitions and expulsions went ahead.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to stop Israel from pursuing the evictions, which come amid new plans to expand more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank that would double the number of Israelis on expropriated Arab lands on a future Palestinian state.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a visit to the region this week, said the evictions were "unhelpful" and said she would "express U.S. concern" to the Israeli authorities over the matter.

But to the Palestinians, who insist that only the United States can press Israel on its policies, such criticism is not enough. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have brushed such complaints aside as 'insignificant.'

PA officials told the press that their U.S. counterparts were unable to give them assurances that the demolitions would be halted and that consequently they expected Israel to proceed – something that could spark a new wave of violence in the city and perhaps across the entire West Bank.

The affected families have vowed not to leave their homes and to remain on their land in Jerusalem by setting up tents to live in if their houses are demolished, insisting they will not allow themselves to become refugees.

The grand mufti of Jerusalem and head of the Higher Islamic Committee, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, said in a Friday interview with the Dubai-based Al-Khaleej daily that Israel's encroachment on Jerusalem and its 'transfer' plans to expel the Palestinians from the city were leading to a third intifada, or uprising.

Some commentators agree. They predict that if Israel pursues its plans to displace thousands of Palestinians by tearing down their homes to empty the city of its Arab inhabitants, not only will it spark another uprising with stone-throwing, but the fourth bulldozer attack in Jerusalem Thursday may mark only the beginning of a new face of the resistance.


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