IDF demolishes home of the 'Arada family in the Tulkarm Refugee Camp, April 2004

Fakhri 'Aarda, owner of demolished house, aged 62

I lived in a four-story building in the Tulkarm refugee camp. Each floor was seventy-five square meters and contained two rooms, kitchen , bathroom, and living room. The first floor was built in 1975, the second floor in 1998, and the other two floors in 2000. I lived on the first floor with my wife, who is 50, and two of our children, 'Ovadiya, 18, and Dalal, who is 14. My son 'Abd a-Rahman, 28, lived on the second floor with his wife, who is 25, and his two children, Fakhri, 3, and Ahmad, 5. Another son, Ahmad,26, lived on the third floor with his wife, who is 22, and their son Muhammad, who is one year old. Our two other sons, Ramzi, 17, and Mahmud, 22, lived on the fourth floor.

'… On Friday night, 2 April 2004, Ramzi carried out an action in the Avnei Hefetz settlement, in which one settler was killed and another wounded. During the action, the soldiers shot and killed Ramzi. I learned about his death via the media. After the action, the IDF placed a curfew on the Tulkarm refugee camp and on Tulkarm for two days, until Sunday, 4 April. Already on the third, Saturday, when I heard about what Ramzi had done, I removed the furniture from the house and left only a few possessions inside.

That Sunday [April 4th 2004], around 4:00 A.M., soldiers came to my house and knocked on the door. When I opened the door, I saw lots of soldiers. They entered, and a soldier who identified himself as the GSS commander in the area came over to me. Speaking in Arabic, he asked me who lived in the house. I told him, and then he said that they were going to demolish the first and fourth floors of the building. I told him to do what he wants. He said: "I want to do you a favor. I am going to give you fifteen minutes to remove your things from the house." All the children left the house and went to the neighbor's house.

A neighbor and I removed what remained in the house, and took the things to neighbors' houses. After about fifteen minutes passed, the soldiers ordered us to leave the house and go somewhere else. He said they were going to blow up the house. I went to a neighbor's house, which was about two hundred meters from my house. About two hours later, I heard an enormous explosion, which shook the whole area.

After an hour or so, I looked out the window and saw the soldiers leaving the area. I went to my house and saw that the interior walls of the first floor had been demolished. The walls on the second and third floors were cracked. The fourth floor was demolished completely. An engineer from the Ministry of Construction checked the building and determined that it was uninhabitable.

Fakhri 'Abd a-Rahman Mustafa 'Aarda is 62 year-old, married and father of six children. He owns a felafel shop and lives in the Tulkarm refugee camp. The testimony was given to 'Abd al-Karim S'adi at the home of the witness's brother on 11 April 2004.