In the month of December 2018, at least 38 structures were demolished in the occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem) by Israeli forces, displacing at least 56 people- including 23 children- and affecting a further 267 people, including 152 children (according to OCHA oPT). In the south of Israel, in the Naqab desert, a newly wed couple had to self-demolish their home in the unrecognised Bedouin village Wadi al-Na’am, and in the North of Israel, a house was demolished in the Palestinian city of Umm al-Fahm.
The month saw an increase in cases of self-demolitions, especially in East Jerusalem, and two punitive demolitions were carried out against the families of Palestinians who were suspected of carrying out attacks against Israelis, leaving dozens of people homeless due to the demolitions.
In the village of As-Simiya, Hebron, a small school was demolished twice during the month, preventing from 45 students their basic right for an education.
All the demolitions and confiscations, other then the two punitive ones, were carried out on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit. Most of the demolished structures supported agricultural, herding and commercial livelihoods.
Full list of Demolitions:
- On 3 December, 2018, at around 8am, Israeli forces demolished two structures in Fasayil al Wusta in the northern Jordan Valley. The force demolished a concrete structure with a tin roof that was home to a family of eight, four of them children, and a shack that was home to an 18-year-old with a physical disability.
- On 3 December, 2018, a Palestinian family was forced to self-demolish a staircase and a private car garage used for storing plumbing and construction tools in Silwan, East Jerusalem, affecting a family of six people, including four children.
- On 3 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished and confiscated two agricultural structures in Majdal Bani Fadil, Nablus, affecting two people from one household.
- On 4 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished four metal structures in Haris, Salfit, including: a laundromat, a plant nursery, a metal workshop and a carpentry. The demolitions affected the livelihood of 23 people from three families. The families received demolition orders a week prior to the demolitions, in which they were informed that they have one month to file an appeal, however the demolitions were carried out within seven days.
- On 4 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a residential house and a 55-metre long concrete fence in Sur Bahir, East Jerusalem, affecting six people from one family.
- On 4 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a residential house in its final stages of construction in Jabal al Mukabbir, East Jerusalem, affecting five people from one household.
- On 4 December, 2018, a family had to self-demolish a private parking garage and staircase, that also served as a storage room, adjacent to their house in Silwan, East Jerusalem, affecting 3 people from one household.
- On 4 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished eight structures in two sites used for storing and selling construction materials in Beit Hanina-Al Marwaha West, East Jerusalem. At the first site, the Israeli forces demolished the cement ground, a 20-meter long fence made of concrete and zinc, a metal gate, as well as confiscated a forklift and a machine used to filling bags of construction materials. At the second site, the Israeli forces confiscated a caravan that contained two offices, two forklifts, computers and files, and demolished two furnished storage spaces, the water network and the electricity network. The storage areas were demolished with all the new merchandise still in it, and a heavy-construction machine was severely damaged. The demolitions and confiscations affected 28 people from five different families. The damage and losses due to the demolitions are estimated at at least $280,000.
- On 5 December, 2018, Israeli forces dismantled a primary school in the village of As Simiya, Hebron. The Israeli forces surrounded the area around the primary school, declared it a closed military zone and prohibited people from entering the area. They then dismantled and confiscated the two metal structures that were placed on a concrete skeleton. The school consisted of seven rooms and was almost ready to be operated. The confiscation affected 45 students, and 5 members of the teaching staff.
- On 8 December, 2018, two brothers were forced to self-demolish their house, comprised of two housing units in Ras al‘Amud, East Jerusalem. The two housing units were built 20 years ago as an extension to the brothers’family house in order to accommodate the needs of the growing families. The demolition displaced 14 people, including ten children, from two households.
- On 8 December, 2018, a family was forced to self-demolish their house after an Israeli court had issued an order giving them a time limit until 10 December,2018, to demolish their 130 sq m house, otherwise, the Jerusalem municipality would carry out the demolition and force the family to pay 60,000 NIS and serve two months in jail.
- On 10 December, 2018, Israeli forces confiscated three tents that served as a primary school in the village of As Simiya, Hebron, after caravans that made up the school were confiscated five days earlier. During the incident, construction materials and two cars that belong to the local village’s municipality were also confiscated. The confiscation affected 45 students, and 5 members of the teaching staff.
- On 11 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a two-storey house under construction in Al Jiftlik-al Musaffah, Jordan Valley. Owner of the house, Omar Rahaila rushed to the area after hearing about the demolition, upon arrival Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition on his car, then dragged him out, beat him and arrested him. The demolition affected a family of five, and was reported in the Israeli media as a car-ramming attack by Rahaila.
- On 12 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a private parking garage in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, affecting seven people from one household.
- On 14 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a 150 sq m old structure in Al Bireh, Ramallah, adjacent to the Beit Il settlement. The structure is located on a plot of land, privately owned by three families. The families reported that they did not receive a confiscation order or a demolition order prior to the demolition of the structure that has affected 70 people from the three households.
- On 15 December, 2018, Israeli forces carried out a punitive demolition using explosives against a four-storey residential building in Al Am’ari refugee camp, Ramallah. The house belonged to the Abu Hmeid family, whose son is accused of killing an Israeli soldier during an Israeli military operation in the refugee camp. The explosion severely damaged two adjacent buildings, resulting in the displacement of their residents. In total, 23 people from six households were displaced, and a further nine people from two households were affected.
- On 15 December, 2018, a family was forced to self-demolish their house In Jabal al Mukabbir, East Jerusalem, that was built three months ago. The demolition displaced a family of four
- On 16 December, 2018, a family was forced to self-demolish a 16 sq m structure that was built as an extension to a family house, to house an elderly couple in Jabal al Mukabbir, East Jerusalem, affecting two people from one household.
- On 17 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a house In the city of Tulkarm. The house belonged to the Naawla family, whose son has been accused of killing two Israelis in October 2018. The punitive demolition of the house displaced six people from two households.
- On 18 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished two houses under construction In Jabal al Mukabbir, East Jerusalem. The demolition order was delivered to the family a week prior to the demolition. The demolition affected two people from one household.
- On 19 December, 2018, a newly wed couple were forced to self-demolish their home in the unrecognised Bedouin village of Wadi al-Na’am in the Naqab desert.
- On 20 December, 2018, Israeli forces demolished a house in Umm al-Fahm, North Israel.
- On 24 December 2018, Israeli forces demolished a house and a portable latrine in the Mikhmas Bedouin community in East Jerusalem, displacing two people.
- On 26 December 2018, Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian-owned car repair shop in the northern West Bank village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, south of Nablus.
Focus on Silwan, East Jerusalem:
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 180 Palestinian families are facing the risk of forced eviction from their homes in Jerusalem due to cases brought against them by settlers or settler associations.
The Abu Zuweir case
On 5 December, 2018 the Magistrate Court in Jerusalem ordered the eviction of a Palestinian family from their property in the neighbourhood. The Court decision gives the family (the heirs of the late Mariam Abu Zuweir) a time limit until March 2019 to evacuate the house.
The targeted property is a house where a Palestinian woman, Ilham Syam, and four of her children live, in addition to a 500 sq m land.
The Magistrate Court issued the eviction order before a session appointed by the Supreme Court on 8 January to decide the ownership of the land. Documents were submitted to the court stating that the land on which the house is built belongs to the late Jamil Syam and not to the late Abu Zuweir.
Abu Zuweir’s heirs have been engaged in a conflict at Israeli courts for 22 years to prove their ownership of the property and to refute the claims of the ‘Elad settler organization.
Nehad Syam, one of the heirs, explained that over the past years, ‘Elad’ has worked hard to seize the property in a number of ways.
Syam said that after several court sessions, it was found out that ‘Elad’ had bought 4 shares from the heirs in addition to obtaining two shares under the “Absentee Property Law”, leaving only two shares for the late Munira Abu Zuwier and her sister Fatima. A decision to evict the family in favour of the settlers was issued on 5 December, 2018. The family have claimed that they will object to the eviction order at Israel’s Jerusalem District Court.
A network of Israeli-built tunnels under Silwan
On 10 December, 2018, a large part of the church land behind al-Ein Mosque in Silwan sustained considerable damage after parts of it collapsed due to heavy rains. The collapsed parts have unveiled a network of Israeli-built tunnels that were dug beneath Palestinian homes and buildings in the area.
Spokesman for the Silwan Land Defence committee Fakhri Abu Diyab told a reporter for the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that “one of the benefits of rainfall is that it exposes the network of tunnels, which were dug by settler groups under Silwan real estate, homes and streets.”
According to Abu Diyab, most of the houses in the area have become suspended in the air and threatened with collapse after soil and rocks were withdrawn from under their foundations. He pointed to the presence of widespread cracks in the walls of many houses as a result of Israeli underground digging and tunnels.
The official urged the concerned international organizations to intervene to protect the lives of the local residents, affirming that the Israeli municipal authority refuses to make repairs to the homes suffering from cracks and also prevents the owners from renovating their homes.
The Abu Rmeileh case
On 22 December, 2018, the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem ordered a Palestinian family in Silwan to evacuate their home after a part of a wall surrounding the house collapsed.
The Abu Rmeileh family woke up to the sound of the external wall collapsing, forming a serious risk to the family. Abdullah Abu Rmeileh said that Israeli settlers, who had seized a piece of land next to the family’s house, had started excavations and digging weeks ago.
He added that Israeli settlers left dirt and rock mounds by the 4-meter wall surrounding his brother Mufid Abu Rmeileh’s house. Abu Rmeileh added that the Israeli municipality sent an engineer to inspect and assess the damages done.
The engineer acknowledged the possibility of other collapses due to the seriousness of the collapse and subsequently issued a decision to evacuate and immediately seal the house that sheltered his brother’s 7-member family
Jawad Siyam from the Wadi Hilweh Information Centre in Silwan said that the Israeli authorities had begun excavation works under the neighbourhood in 2007.
Israel frequently allows excavations and archaeological digs that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.In August, 2018, Palestinian lands collapsed due to Israeli excavations and digging in the area.
(as reported by the Wadi Hilweh Information Centre)