Rachel Corrie was the heroic Jewish volunteer who was crushed to death in Rafah, Gaza, in March 2003 as she tried to prevent a bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home.

On Thursday, Aljazeera.net reported how a Palestinian house rebuilt with help from volunteers was destined to be destroyed within 24 hours.

But a wave of outraged campaigning has caused the Israeli occupation authorities to reconsider razing Arabiya and Salim Shawamrah’s property to the ground, a building dedicated to American-born Rachel's memory and home to seven children.

Bait Arabiya has been given another two weeks while an Israeli court decides if the Palestinian home in occupied Gaza should be destroyed for a fifth time.

Temporary period of grace

Former member of the Jerusalem Municipal Council Meir Margalit said the Israeli Court has frozen the demolition order to give the Israeli army time to explain why they must demolish this house.

"This is standard procedure.  It does not mean the house is safe,"  said Margalit. "We know from experience that chances are small because the army now takes this house as something personal. They cannot allow it to stay."

Rachel paid the ultimate price for
defending Palestinian homes

A spokeswoman for the Israeli occupation administration told Aljazeera.net that unwelcome publicity over the incident was not the reason for delaying the demolition.

"Two weeks is a standard period for considering legal appeals, it should not be taken to mean that the pressure on Israel will prevent it carrying out the law. The house was built illegally - without a licence," said the Civil Authority source.

Israeli volunteers for rebuilding

Rachel Corrie’s parents have arrived from the US for a visit, and have already visited Bait Arabiya, rebuilt by volunteers from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Craig and Cindy Corrie met Arabiya and Salim Shawamrah to give their sympathy and support.

ICAHD Coordinator Jeff Halper said that after volunteers rebuilt the home, they dedicated it to the “memory of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Swaidan”.
 
Nuha Swaidan was a pregnant Palestinian woman who was also killed by a bulldozer during a house demolition in Gaza at the same time as Rachel.

Resistance symbol

Some Israelis publicly recognise
injustice to Palestinians and are
challeging it

Since it was first demolished by the Israeli authorities five years ago, Bait Arabiya has become a symbol or resistance not only to occupation but to Israeli’s sustained campaign to displace Palestinians from their country altogether, said Halper.

Shawamrah applied for a building permit four times to build a home on land he had bought outright but each time he was refused for a different reason.

The Civil Administration ruled that Shawamrah had not filled in the right forms. Then he was told the area was listed as an “agricultural zone”. Next the land was “too steep” and finally his plot was deemed “too near” an Israeli highway.

Property owner reaction

Speaking to Aljazeera.net, the home owner said he would not submit to occupation, violence, threats, intimidation or impoverishment.

“My family has withstood successive demolitions and severe trauma, but by putting home demolitions on the international agenda we are in fact celebrating the courage and solidarity of many thousands of ordinary Palestinians,” said Shawamrah.

The Israeli demolition programme has caused such an international outrage that Shawamrah has been invited to tour America and highlight the plight of Palestinians.

There were mixed emotions as he headed for the airport and looked back on Bait Arabiya ... knowing it will probably be razed to the ground.

Details of his speaking tour can be found at: www.icahd.org