Photo credit: Amer Aruri, B'tselem
There are four categories of demolitions:
- Punitive demolitions: Houses demolished as punishment for the actions of people associated with the houses.
- Administrative demolitions: Houses demolished for lack of a building permit. This happens in Area C and in East Jerusalem, under exclusive Israeli authority, though prior to the existence of Areas A, B & C it occurred in other areas as well. It is important to point out that in almost all cases, Palestinians have no choice but to build "illegally" as permits are rarely granted
- Land-clearing operations/Military demolitions: Houses demolished by the IDF in the course of military operations for the purposes of clearing off a piece of land (for whatever reason), achieve a military goal or to kill wanted persons as part of Israel’s policy of extrajudicial executions..
- Undefined demolitions: These include mainly demolitions resulting from land-clearing operations and removal of Palestinian populations.
* WASH stands for structures relating to water, sanitation and hygiene.
† In many cases, notably in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities condition Palestinians to either demolish their properties themselves or have the authorities do so. In an attempt to avoid having to pay the high fee of the Israeli authorities’ demolition operation and additional high fines, many Palestinians are forced to self-demolish. .
Above data is from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA),B’tselem, Palestinian Information Centre)
Legal updates & more
“Israel’s destruction of Palestinian property undermines efforts to curb Covid-19
Israel’s recent targeting of homes and even water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the occupied West Bank violates international law and undermines efforts to curb the corona virus pandemic.
Ongoing demolitions and threats of forcible transfer, amid plans for Israel’s next government to unilaterally annex large parts of the West Bank, jeopardises the health and safety of thousands of Palestinians. A land grab would not only disenfranchise Palestinians and erode their hopes for genuine self-determination, but also sever coordination between Israeli and Palestinian authorities necessary to counter the spread of Covid-19 among both peoples.
“It is Israel’s legal obligation to protect the health and life of Palestinians under occupation,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “We urge Israeli authorities to immediately cease the unlawful destruction and seizure of property in the West Bank, including humanitarian relief items. This is not the time to undermine global efforts to prevent the spread of the corona virus.”
“The international community must act to ensure Israel abides by international law and joins the global call to end political conflicts to fight the pandemic, rather than escalate the vulnerability of Palestinians under occupation,” said Egeland.
Since Israel confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on 21 February, the UN reported that the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) demolished 69 structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This forcibly displaced 63 people and affected 417 others. The structures included 28 residential properties and seven water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Donor states had provided a third of the destroyed or seized structures as humanitarian relief.
While the ICA confirmed on 7 April that it will not destroy inhabited residential property in the West Bank to mitigate the spread of the corona virus, it did not extend the freeze to other structures, including infrastructure such as critical WASH facilities, essential to prevent infection.
Restrictions imposed by Israeli and Palestinian authorities to contain Covid-19 have isolated vulnerable communities from local markets and crippled their capacity to earn a living. In contrast to the stimulus package passed to support the Israeli economy and population under strain from public health measures, Israel has demolished 28 Palestinian agricultural and livelihood structures in Area C, exacerbating affected families’ ability to provide for themselves and their communities. Israel has further failed to prevent settler violence against Palestinians and their property, with the UN reporting a surge in attacks since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Note to editors:
- International humanitarian law (IHL) requires Israel, as the occupying power, to protect the population of the territory that it occupies, and ensure the welfare and well being of Palestinians, as well as respect for their human rights. Israel has a legal obligation to ensure and maintain health facilities, services, and supplies in occupied Palestinian territory. If unable to adequately provide for the needs of the occupied population, Israel must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief.
- Destruction of property, including humanitarian relief consignments, by the occupying power is prohibited, except for reasons of imperative military necessity, and amounts to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Demolitions combined with other factors, such as the denial of basic service infrastructure, including water, sanitation, and community health care facilities, aggravate the coercive environment in which Palestinians throughout the West Bank live, generate a risk of forcible transfer, and contribute to the spread of Covid-19. “
( Published by the Norwegian Refugee Council, 15 April 2020)