Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Israeli Demolition Co.- Funded By U.S. Tax Dollars.

House Demolitions



September 24, 2007

On June 10th 1967, the Israeli government demolished the Moroccan
Quarter in the Old City of East Jerusalem to make easier public access
to the Western Wall. After the Israeli army called on the inhabitants
of the quarter to vacate their homes only a couple of hours before
the demolitions took place, a call which was not heard by everybody
in the quarter, 135 houses were demolished along with two
mosques and other sites. 650 inhabitants were left homeless and
several others dead under the rubble of their homes. This demolition
was not the first of its kind in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
but definitely the starting point to a lifetime struggle with
illegal house demolitions by the Israel Occupying forces.

Since 1967, almost 18,000 homes have been demolished in the
occupied Palestinian territories for three main reasons: collective
punishment and for so-called operational and administrative reasons.

House demolitions started before 1967 by the British Mandate as a
means to expel the Palestinians from their homes. Below is a brief
history of house demolitions in Palestine:

  • 1930s: British administration in Palestine uses house demolitions as
  • a means of quelling the indigenous uprising against British rule.

  • 1936-1939: British authorities demolish more than 5,000
  • Palestinian homes.

  • 1948: the newly established state of Israel begins demolishing
  • the homes of Palestinian refugees to prevent their return. More than
  • 125,000 homes, some of which were damaged during the war,
  • were systematically destroyed in a process referred to as "cleaning
  • up the national views".

  • 1950s: Israel expels Palestinians from border areas and
  • from villages where part of the Palestinian population remained
  • after the war and demolishes Palestinian homes.

  • 1967: Destruction of housing stock during the war included
  • 375 homes in Imwas, 535 homes in Yalu, 550 homes in Beit
  • Nuba, an estimated 135 homes in the Moroccan quarter of the
  • Old City of Jerusalem, 1,000 homes in Qalqilya, in addition to
  • thousands of homes of Beit Marsam, Beit Awa, Jiftlik, and
  • al-Burj as well as refugee camps in the Jericho area and
  • the Gaza Strip.

  • 1970s and 1980s: Israel demolishes more than 10,000 refugee
  • shelters in the Gaza Strip to create a so-called security corridor
  • between the southern Gaza Strip and the Sinai and to widen
  • roads in the camps for Israeli military patrols. Demolitions
  • were also part of a campaign to forcibly resettle refugees
  • outside camps.

  • 1993-2000: Israel demolished more than 1,000 homes
  • across the occupied Palestinian territories

  • 2003: Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes inside
  • Israel. Demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Naqab (Negev)
  • increased by eight times. More than 100 homes were
  • demolished. An additional 280 homes were destroyed in the
  • Galilee and the Triangle. In total more than 500 homes
  • were destroyed. There are an estimated 12,000 outstanding
  • demolition orders in the Galilee and some 30,000 in the
  • Negev to date.

  • House demolitions continue.

Pretexts under which house demolitions are carried out:

Collective Punishment:
The Israeli government uses house demolitions as collective punishment
in response to attacks on Israel; families of attackers or of
people suspected of carrying out attacks as well as their
neighbors or in some cases whole neighborhoods are subject to this
illegal violation of human rights. Under the Fourth Geneva
Convention, Occupying Powers are prohibited from destroying
property or employing collective punishment. Article 53 reads:
"Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal
property belonging individually or collectively to private
persons…is prohibited." According to the Israeli human rights
organization, B'Tselem, 47% of houses demolished as punitive
punishment were never the homes of attackers or suspected
attackers on Israel but were houses adjacent to these
homes. Additionally, only 3% of all occupants of demolished
houses were given prior notice that the Israeli army would
demolish their house or an adjacent one.

Before the policy of collective punishment by means of house
demolitions was renewed during the second (Al Aqsa) Intifada,
demolitions were only carried out after a military order was
issued. Under Israeli law the demolition order is delivered to
the family and the family is allowed to appeal to the military
commander within 48 hours. Even if the appeal is denied, the
family must be allowed to petition the High Court before
the house is demolished. In reality, however this is not the
case at all. During the current Intifada, Israel treated house
demolitions as an imperative military action whereby most
of the house demolitions took place at night, without any
prior notice or demolition order.

Military Operations:
The second reason given by the Israeli government for house
demolition is an operational one which took place during
military operations called "clearing operations". Under
International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the destruction of
property during combat is not illegal as such. Destruction
is prohibited unless there is an absolute military necessity
to do so. It has been observed however that large-scale
demolition operations carried out on civilian homes in the
name of necessary military operations immediately after
an attack on Israelis suggest otherwise. Gaza more
than anywhere else in Palestine has become the
target of such actions and false justifications. Miloon
Kothari a UN Special Rapporteur speaking to Diakonia in
response to Israel's attack on Beit Hannoun on
November 8th, 2006 said: " Since 25 June 2006, the
most recent Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, I
continue to receive alarming reports about deliberate
attacks by Israeli forces resulting in the destruction of
homes, civilian property and infrastructures in the Gaza
Strip. Such acts have a devastating impact on civilians
particularly, women and children, and create insecurity
and psychological trauma. Thus, these forced evictions
and unjustifiable destruction constitute breaches of
international laws of human rights, war and humanitarian
norms. International law strictly prohibits the destruction
of private or public property when not absolutely
necessary by military operations". Since the beginning
of the uprising, 14,852 people have been made
homeless by Israeli actions up to 2004.

Administrative policies:
The most common defense used for demolishing houses in
east Jerusalem and Palestinian houses in Israel is for
administrative reasons. The Israeli government demolishes
houses in Area C (Palestine Areas under Israeli military and
civil control) because of lack of building licenses even
though attaining a building license in east Jerusalem
or inside Israel is nearly impossible for Palestinians. Israeli
army Legal Advisor Colonel Shlomo Politus told the Israeli
Parliament in July 2003 that: "...there are no more
construction permits for Palestinians," and the Israeli Army
spokesperson told Amnesty International delegates in
1999 that "Our policy is not to approve building in
Area C [of the West Bank]". Houses are demolished
because Israel wants to expand the Israeli settlements
in the West Bank as well as creating permanent
facts on the ground. According to B'Tselem
Palestinian houses under this justification are normally
demolished to meet the following needs:

  • Construction of bypass roads: Bypass roads are intended
  • to enable the movement of settlers and military forces
  • protecting the settlements. Houses lying alongside an existing
  • or planned bypass road are designated for demolition.

  • Removal of Palestinians from areas adjacent to Israeli
  • settlements: Israeli authorities consistently demolish
  • Palestinian structures that are perceived as hindrances
  • to the establishment and expansion of Israeli
  • settlements. The proximity of the houses to the
  • settlements obviously is not posed as an official
  • reason for the demolition in these cases.

  • To prevent transfer of land to Palestinians: Israel
  • demolishes houses in areas located on land that it
  • wants to keep for itself in the final-status
  • agreement. By pursuing this policy, Israel is
  • preventing the Palestinian Authority from
  • demanding the land on grounds that Palestinians
  • live there. Demolition of houses is a convenient
  • way to expel residents from the area.

Israeli forces are still demolishing houses in large numbers under
false pretenses and justifications to serve the overall purpose
of the Zionist state to uproot and drive as many Palestinians
out of their houses and lands as possible and to build more
illegal settlements. According to B'Tselem's recent statistics, in
the last two years (2006-2007) in the West Bank alone 165
houses were demolished leaving 724 people homeless, and
between 2004-2007 in east Jerusalem alone 300 houses
were demolished leaving 939 Palestinians homeless. House
demolitions have a severe impact on the Palestinian
people, affecting the economy and agriculture and
causing severe trauma to children, women and men
who fall victim to this war crime.

Amnesty International
Electronic Intifada - A history of destruction Report, BADIL, May 18 2004


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