The House That Broke The Camel's Back


It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.-Matthew 19:24


by Roy Tov

Even Hebrew speakers—always reluctant to admit their knowledge of Arabic—understand and adopted the idiom the straw that broke the camel’s back. On June 28, 2013, Israel witnessed a variant of the idiom, when the destruction of a house caused massive protests among Palestinians in The Triangle.*

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The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back—Arabic Idiom
Arabic Idioms

The denizens of the Triangle are Palestinian citizens of Israel; they don’t serve in the IDF. Their towns are discriminated against by the Israeli Administration; this is most evident in their infrastructure, which lags decades behind those in Jewish cities.
Thus, protests abound. In 1999, 500 denizens were hurt in riots protesting the Israeli government’s inhuman expropriation of lands. In September 2000, rioting during the Second Intifada left three dead and over 100 wounded. Considering this, one should expect the government to be careful in all its actions there. Yet, Israel walked in like an elephant in a crystal shop.
The Triangle is one of the areas targeted by the Price Tag+ terror attacks. Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu took an odd decision, banning the attacks in the West Bank, but allowing them within the Green Line (Jews Allowed to Puncture Tyres, Palestinians Not).

Price Tag Attack, Um El-Kutuf, Wadi Ara, May 14, 2013
Tales of the Wadi : Folktales from Wadi Ara.

 “We don’t understand,” said Hebrew Media
The house that broke the camel’s back was located in Bar’aa, near Katzir Junction. It was built forty years ago, and five years afterwards, a demolition order was issued due to the lack of a construction permit. Two days afterwards, on Friday, after the Muslim noon prayers, the protests broke.
35 Years, the Israeli Administration did nothing. Then, days after Netanyahu allowed his hooligans to damage private property in the Triangle, the house was destroyed by the police. Was this circumstantial? Was this a lucky coincidence? Don’t attempt to claim that to those who lost everything.

Protests in Wadi Ara
June 28, 2013
More pictures of the event and a scalable map of the area at

The Hebrew media emphasized the fact that the demolition order was old. It failed to understand that time doesn’t make an illegitimate order right. Time is not a method for legalizing evil. The issue of the permit is crucial. “They didn’t have a construction permit!” a Zionist would exclaim at this point.
It Was More Than One House
The quiet protests were called as a reaction to the demolition of the house and the recent approval of the Prawer Law, aimed at expelling more than 30,000 Bedouins from their homes in the Negev Desert (see Israel Approves Prawer Law Expelling Bedouins).
Both events are related. What Israel calls “Minorities’ Citizens” (Palestinians, Bedouins, Druzes, Circassians) experience difficulties in obtaining construction permits. In old properties, Israel requests an Ottoman Kushan;** seldom is this property ownership document available. This is part of a coordinated effort of Israel to confiscate and purchase land (see Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem sells the City).
“I must destroy your home, you don’t have a permit,” the policeman said.
“You refused to give me one,” the Palestinian dared to answer.
“You are a terrorist criminal,” the policeman countered and destroyed the man’s house.
The Message is on the Flag
On Friday, after the prayers, about 1,500 denizens of the Triangle gathered near the site of the demolished house. The pictures above show the silent protest. Worried about their cherished highway, the police sent a large force to secure the Katzir Junction and its surrounding.
It didn’t take long until denizens found themselves unable to move normally in their town. People gathered and started a noisy protest against the police, which began advancing towards them. Stones were thrown at the police. Since this is the typical reaction, the police was waiting for that. The entire event staged by the police was nothing but a provocation. Before the police arrived people were gathered under tents, in a futile attempt to escape the scorching sun.
“Finally, finally, we can attack!” the violent civil servant exclaimed. Hagai Dotan is commander of the Coastal Plain District of the police. He led the attack.
The police reacted wildly, throwing dozens of gas and shock grenades. At the time these lines were written, it was unclear how many Palestinians had been wounded.
The owner of the house said that he had worked for years to get the permit, having even addressed directly the bureau of the President. This claim was confirmed by newspaper Haaretz.
The pictures reproduced above show how deep the protest is. These Palestinians live within the Green Line and are full citizens of the State of Israel. Yet, they are waving the flag of the State of Palestine.
Protesters have announced that on July 8, there would be a general strike in all Palestinian towns within the Green Line.
“We don’t understand,” Zionist readers are saying, “we even built them a highway!” failing to understand that as long as they say “them,” they have no legitimacy.


 * “The Triangle” (Hebrew: HaMeshulash; Arabic: al-Muthallath) is the largest concentration of Israeli-Palestinian towns in Israel. They occupy a strategic position between Highway 65 and the northern edge of Gush Dan, Tel Aviv’s Metropolitan Area. These towns and cities disconnect the continuity of the Jewish settlement, dissecting Haifa and the Galilee from the rest of the country. It is the largest concentration of Israeli-Palestinians towns in the country.
Israel’s Highway 65 is peculiar. It connects the Mediterranean coastal plains with the Jezreel Valley, bypassing Haifa. It achieves that by traveling along Wadi Ara (“wadi” is a narrow stream that remains dry except during the winter). Undecided in its politics, the road zigzags left and right among the low hills. Palestinian villages dot the roadsides. It doesn’t take long to notice that most of them are not connected to the Israeli highway, or that they are connected in such a way that their denizens have a hard time accessing it.
Among them, Taibeh is the closest town to Tel Aviv (see Israeli Astronaut Denied Memorial); Umm al-Fahm is the largest. Near the Triangle’s northern edge is Ma’ale Iron (“Upper Ara” in Hebrew), a small regional council that administrates various villages. One of them is named Musmus, which is of special interest. It is the only village in the country named after a pharaoh; its name is a distortion of Thutmose. Pharaoh Thutmose III reigned from 1479 BC to 1425 BE; during this long period he conducted several military campaigns, including northwards, to Syria. On his way there, he fought the Battle of Megiddo, the largest in his campaigns. Instead of taking the easy paths available for reaching Megiddo, he crossed Wadi Ara; he called the area “Aruna.” The pass was described by his scribes as wide enough for the army to pass “horse after horse and man after man.” He won the battle, and an eon or two afterwards got a little village named after him. This village is so unfriendly to Israel that the country’s police forces avoid entering it (see On Musmus, a Forgotten Pharaoh, and Political Violence).
+ The term “Price Tag Policy” became public in July 2008, when settler Itay Zar from “Havat Gilad” referred to the policy as such: “Whenever an evacuation (of settlers) is carried out—whether it is a bus, a trailer or a small outpost—we will respond.” It refers to illegal actions carried out by radical right-winged Israeli activists and settlers. The actions of these Jewish hooligans include demonstrations, blocking of roads, clashes with Israeli security forces, throwing rocks at Palestinian cars, torching of Palestinian fields and orchards, and the destruction and uprooting of trees belonging to Palestinians. The last is very important since according to Ottoman laws still legally binding in Israel, trees can be used to show ownership of land. See Price Tag.
** Nowadays there are roughly fifty Bedouin settlements in the Negev with a total of some two hundred thousand inhabitants, roughly half of them in recognized towns and villages, and the remnant in unrecognized ones. The difference between these two categories is vast. Recognized towns and villages get infrastructure and services from the state while unrecognized settlements get nothing. In exchange for recognition, the Israeli Administration often asks for relocation and for proper verification of ownership. Now, Israel’s law system is incomplete. Where laws do not exist, Israeli courts often refer to British Mandate and Ottoman Empire laws. In this case, Israel decided to work according to the Ottoman Empire law here, demanding from the Bedouins Ottoman “Kushan” ownership papers. Not one Bedouin has such documents. The result is violent friction each time the Israeli Administration attempts to regularize the situation of a given tribe.


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.