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http://www.adc.org/action/1999/27jan2000.htm

ADC Fact Sheet:

Demolition of Palestinian Homes by Israeli Occupation Forces

ISRAEL'S DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES HAS CAUSED WIDESPREAD DEVASTATION

Since 1987, Israeli military forces have demolished at least 2,650 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories. A new report by Amnesty International, "Demolition and Dispossession: the Destruction of Palestinian Homes," confirms that "Since 1987 at least 16,700 Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been made homeless and tens of thousands of Palestinians currently live under constant fear of their homes being demolished by Israeli authorities. The demolitions occur because the Israeli government refuses to grant building permits to Palestinians -- even to develop land that has belonged to their families for generations -- and uses the lack of the permits to justify razing homes."

THE HOME DEMOLITIONS CONTINUE UNDER BARAK

According to the Palestinian human rights group LAW, in the past year at least "460 Palestinians received notifications that their houses or barracks or other facilities would be demolished. Most of these properties are located in Jerusalem and Hebron," Palestinian cities facing intensive Israeli colonization programs. Amnesty International reports that under Barak "Despite a brief lull in August and September, demolitions resumed in October." In 1999, Israel demolished at least 39 Palestinian homes, of which over 20 were in Jerusalem, leaving well over 140 Palestinians, including 70 children, homeless.

ISRAEL'S HOME DEMOLITIONS ARE RACIST AND VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

The prohibition against the demolition of houses, Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention , to which Israel is party, stipulates: "Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations." The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem points out that "Both Jews and Palestinians build illegally. Yet the response of the government is not equal. While Palestinians are responsible for less than 20% of illegal construction [in Jerusalem], nearly two thirds of the demolitions are carried out on Palestinian houses." Amnesty International found that "the Israeli [home demolition] policy is based on discrimination: Palestinians are targeted simply because they are Palestinians. In carrying out this policy, Israeli officials have ignored the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the occupying power to protect the welfare of the people in the areas it has occupied, and international human rights law, which recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including housing. They have taken what laws can be adapted to their use – for example, distorting the Ottoman Land Law of 1855 and interpreting in their own interests the 1966 Jordanian Planning Law -- and they have discriminated in application of the law, strictly enforcing planning prohibitions where Palestinian houses are built and freely allowing amendments to the plans to promote development where Israelis are establishing settlements." Amnesty concludes "The policy of house demolitions, based on a misuse of planning mechanisms and closely linked to the confiscation of land and the growth of Israeli settlements, is a grave human rights violation against the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

THE DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES IS PART OF A PROJECT TO ALTER THE CHARACTER OF JERUSALEM AND OTHER PALESTINIAN CITIES

Amnesty International reports that "The Israeli objective since 1967 has been to transform the ethnic character of the annexed area [of East Jerusalem] from Arab to Jewish. Israeli demolition policy in East Jerusalem is based on similar premises as in the rest of the West Bank: construction of settlements restricted to Jews, confiscation of land for exclusively Jewish use, and restriction and demolition of Palestinian development. Currently, more than one-third of the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem lives under threat of having its houses demolished. The number of houses now threatened is three and a half times greater than the number that has been given permits since 1967." Together with other Israeli policies such as massive land confiscations, the building of Jewish-only settlements and by-pass roads in the occupied territories, and the expulsion of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, home demolitions are designed to strengthen Israel's grip on Palestinian land.

HOME DEMOLITIONS ARE ACTS OF TERRORISM

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions has observed that "The human suffering entailed in the process of destroying a family's home is incalculable. Palestinian families never know just when the demolition crews accompanied by tens of soldiers and police will arrive. They can come at any time of the day or night, though normally demolition does not occur on Fridays or Saturdays due to the Jewish Sabbath. Those are the only times when the threatened families are free of constant fear and anxiety. When the dreaded time comes, the families are often given but an hour's warning to remove their belongings before the bulldozers move in. Sometimes demolition is resisted; at other times the family and their neighbors watch in horror as their home is reduced to rubble. One can only imagine their feelings and thoughts." Amnesty International similarly points out that "The emotional consequences for the individuals and families whose homes have been demolished have been traumatic. There is no warning of the time and date of a demolition; the bulldozers arrive accompanied by scores of soldiers armed with batons and guns. They usually come at a time when the father has gone to work; the family may only have 15 minutes to take what belongings they can before their furniture is thrown into the street and their home is bulldozed. On many occasions members of the family and protesters have been beaten by soldiers using their batons or wounded (and once even killed) by metal-coated rubber bullets."

HOME DEMOLITIONS ARE USED FOR COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT AND REVENGE

Israel also demolishes the home of those suspected of resisting the occupation. During the first four years of the Intifada, Israel demolished over 786 Palestinian homes as revenge against those participating in the uprising and as collective punishment against their families. Within a few weeks of the bomb attack in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on July 30 1997 at least 29 houses were demolished, which B'Tselem has identified as an act of "political revenge." The first section of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."


For more information on the internet see Amnesty International's Report on House Demolitions
<http://www.amnestyusa.com/news/1999/51507899.htm>,
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
http://www.net-a.org/hdemol/
B'Tselem <http://www.btselem.org/btselem/>,
and LAW <http://www.lawsociety.org/>.


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