February has seen widespread demolitions and confiscations in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) with Israeli authorities demolishing 37 structures ,displacing 44 people, including 24 children, and affecting a further 211 people otherwise, during the short month. In the Naqab desert, South Israel, the unrecognised Bedouin village Al Araqib was demolished for the 125th time, and in Lod, central Israel a house was demolished displacing a family. All the incidents occurred on the grounds of lack of an Israeli-issued building permit.
At the beginning of the month, Israeli forces demolished 2 classrooms in the Bedouin and Refugee community Abu Nuwar in the Jerusalem Periphery, affecting 26 children. According to the United Nations, It is estimated that at least 44 schools (36 in Area C and 8 in East Jerusalem) have pending demolition or stop-work orders. Hundreds of children attending one of at least 45 schools in the West Bank (37 in Area C and 8 in East Jerusalem) with pending demolition orders, are living in instability, with the specter of school demolition ever-present, threatening their access to education.
Other communities in the West Bank are continuing to fight against demolition orders issued for the entire village, with Susiya in South Mount Hebron expecting imminent demolitions of 7 structures and one home already demolished in Jabal al Baba, Jerusalem Periphery.
- On 1 February 2018, Israeli forces raided the al Hemarah area, east of Beit Dajan, Nablus and demolished a house under construction belonging to Diyab Hussein Ali Rajeh. The house was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
- On 3 February 2018, during an ongoing Israeli military operation to locate the alleged perpetrator in the killing of an Israeli man on January 2018, a structure was demolished in the village of Birqin, Jenin, displacing 15 people from 4 households and affecting a further 5 people.
- On 4 February 2018, in the early hours of the morning, two classrooms, serving 26 Palestinian school children were demolished by Israeli forces in the Bedouin and refugee community Abu Nuwar, in the Jerusalem Periphery.
- The same day, in Khashem ad Daraj, Hebron a house was demolished by Israeli forces, displacing a family of 5.
- On 5 February 2018, 5 structures were demolished in the Jordan Valley; In Ein el Beida one structure was demolished affecting 7 people and in Ein al Hilwa-Um al Jmal, Israeli forces demolished and confiscated 4 tents displacing 9 people, including 6 minors . The tents had been donated to the family by a humanitarian aid organization after the Israeli Civil Administration had demolished the family’s tents on an earlier occasion. The Israeli forces also confiscated rolls of barbed-wire and bolts of cloth used for tent maintenance.
- On the same day, Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated a 400 meters long water pipe in Khirbet a-Sakut in the northern Jordan Valley. The water pipeline had served to irrigate the watermelon patch of Bassem Fuqahaa, a 60 year old farmer from Tubas.
- On 7 February 2018, Israeli forces demolished a house in Silwan, East Jerusalem, displacing a family of 6. The Toma family reported that over the years they tried to obtain an Israeli building permit and even payed fines of over 100,000 NIS (29,000 US$), but the Israeli authorities refused to grant them one. Eventually, the house was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
- On 12 February 2018, a building, used as a garage, was demolished by Israeli forces in Beit Ummar, Hebron affecting 11 people. The building was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
- The same day, in Wadi Qana, Salfit, 2 agricultural structures were demolished affecting 32 people from 5 households. Israeli authorities claimed the structures were located on land zoned as a “Nature reserve”,making them illegal under Israeli law. Local residents reported that one of the structures was 100 years old, and added that after the demolition, Israeli forces proceeded to confiscate solar panels from several farmers in the area.
- On 13 February 2018, a commercial shop was demolished in Al ‘Isawiya, East Jerusalem, affecting 8 people. The structure was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
- On 14 February 2018, 9 structures were demolished and confiscated in Beit Safafa, East Jerusalem affecting 28 people.
- The same day, in the al-Mahatta neighbourhood in Lod, , Israel Israeli forces demolished a house under construction. The owner of the house, Martin Baidas, reported that the demolition accord without prior notice while the case is still pending in court.
- On 14 February 2018, in the early hours of the morning a three story house under construction was demolished in Khirbet al Hasaka, Hebron affecting 7 people.The demolition was carried out on grounds of lack of an Israeli-issued demolition order.
- The same day, in the town of Beit Kahel, Hebron Israeli forces demolished a house in the late hours of the night. The demolition was carried out on grounds of lack of an Israeli-issued demolition order.
On 15 February 2018, a structure was demolished in Silwan, East Jerusalem affecting 9 people.
- On 20 February 2018, a house was demolished in Jabal al Baba, northeast of Jerusalem. Israeli forces demolished the shack that served as the home of the Abu ‘Aweidah family, displacing a family of 13, including 10 minors. This is the second time in less than six months that the Israeli authorities have demolished the Abu ‘Aweidahs’ home, having demolished their home on 15 October 2017, along with three other homes. Since 2006, Israel has demolished 33 structures in the community, 27 of them had served as homes to 136 people, including 73 minors.
- On 21 February 2018, 3 structures were demolished by Israeli forces in Shu’fat, East Jerusalem displacing a family of 7. A demolition order was issued by Israeli authorities against Mr.Saleh Abu Khdeir’s house in October 2017. Although the case was still pending in court- and Mr.Abu Khdeir paid 50,000 NIS in fines- Israeli forces demolished his house and farm with no prior notice.
- The same day, also in East Jerusalem, a hair salon was demolished in Beit Hanina, affecting 2 people. The small shop was built from bricks and roofed with tin plates.
- On 21 February 2018, 2 structures were demolished in Al Bowereh (Aqabat Injeleh) village, Hebron affecting 10 people.
- The same day, also in Hebron, in the village Al Baqa’a, a structure was demolished affecting 5 people.
- In The Naqab desert, South Israel, on 21 February 2018 the unrecognised Bedouin village Al-Araqib was demolished for the 125th time.
- On 28 February 2018, Israeli forces demolished a gas station, agricultural structures and retaining walls in the town Hizma, north of Jerusalem affecting the livelihoods of 34 people.
- The same day, in Al ‘Isawiya, East Jerusalem a house was self-demolished. Mr.Khalil Ali, owner of the house reported that after receiving a demolition order from the Jerusalem municipality they he had no other choice but demolishing his house to avoid paying high fines to the municipality. The demolition affected the family of 7.
Communities facing heightened risk of forcible transfer:
Al Muntar, a small rural community in the Jerusalem periphery, is continuing its legal battle to save the community’s school. On 1 February 2018, the community’s lawyer submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ ) against the demolition order of the community’s school. The petition argued that the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA ) should review the detailed plan submitted to it and, in the meantime, not demolish the school . The HCJ decided that the ICA is not allowed to demolish the school until the court decides otherwise, and that the State of Israel should respond to the motion for interim injunction within 21 days. In an interesting note, in its ruling, the court did not relate to the fact that the school is still operating in contrast to previous decisions in which it prohibited the school from operating.
Susiya, South Mount Hebron
On 1 February 2018, “Haqel”- A Human Rights organization representing the village, reported that the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) decided in response to the petitioners’ request to halt the demolition of 20 structures in the village of SusIya. In the decision, the court determined that of the 20 structures, 7 structures could be demolished without delay by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA). These structures are home to 42 residents of the village, of which half are children and others, ill.
The court took the decision despite the fact that there are no alternative living arrangements or basic sanitary services necessary for the survival and well-being of the affected residents. However, the court determined that the village clinic must not be demolished until July 2018, if and when an alternative arrangement is found.
The court did not respond to the state’s request to demolish 20 structures, and the decision regarding the 13 structures which will not be demolished is a positive step in the right direction. The court stated that weight needs to be given to humanitarian considerations in applying laws of building and planning. Chief Justice Esther Hayut stated: “The court cannot accept the respondents’ outright claim that humanitarian needs are not relevant under any circumstances.” In addition: “Despite the fact that there is no dispute that the clinic was built illegally, it is reasonable that it was set up as an essential service for life in the village, and that its demolition would result in significant hardship to the petitioners and the village as a whole.”
It must be emphasized that the entire village is still under threat of demolition; the 7 structures are not dependent on the court decision and the threat of demolition is immediate; 20 additional structures are under threat of demolition following the one-sided warning given by the state; the future of the village is dependent on the decision of the court in response to the High Court appeal submitted following the rejection of the master plan initiated by the residents of the village. The court has instructed the state to provide its response regarding the plan by 7 May 2018.
In the meantime, and as a response to the imminent demolition threat to 7 structures in the village, dozens of Israeli, Palestinian and International activists have been maintaining a presence in the village.
Abu Nuwar, Jerusalem Periphery
The residents of the Bedouin and refugee community of Abu Nuwar, located in Area C on the outskirts of Jerusalem has fought a legal battle in recent months trying to stop the demolition of the community’s school. Ever since the school was first demolished in 2016 the community has tried to obtain an Israeli-issued building permit to prevent another demolition. In August 2017 Israeli authorities seized solar panels that powered an elementary and preschool in the community despite a petition against the seizure having been filed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which issued a restraining order against the confiscation an hour after the panels were taken. In December 2017, a demolition order was issued against the school and since then the students have been studying in makeshift structures as the court prohibited them from using the school. The community filed a petition against the demolition but on 4 February 2018, while the case was still pending in court, Israeli forces demolished 2 class rooms (3rd and 4th grade) in the school that serves 26 Palestinian school children. Abu Nuwar is one of the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance in the occupied West Bank. The community isn’t connected to the electricity grid or to the water system, it is not recognized by the Israeli state and it faces a risk of forcible transfer. Its location on the contentious“E1” corridor between East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement block Ma’ale Adumim heightens its risk of displacement as Israel plans to build thousands of housing units for the use of Israeli-Jewish Settlers to connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem and include it in its ‘Greater Jerusalem’ master plan. This is the sixth demolition or confiscation incident in Abu Nuwar school by the Israeli authorities since February 2016