Dear ….. (MP)
I am very concerned about the widespread demolition of Palestinian houses and other structures vital for living by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. I should be most grateful if you would ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to make urgent representations to the Israeli authorities to bring these demolitions to an end without delay.
In the first ten days of June, 73 structures were demolished; displacing 98 people, including 54 children, and affecting a further 299 people. Imagine how you and your family would feel if your house was demolished. What do you suppose that the physical, mental, and emotional damage which you and your loved ones suffered would be?
In the course of one of these demolitions, Israeli forces physically assaulted an 80-year old woman. In some cases the Palestinians have to demolish their own houses in order to avoid the demolition fees and possibly fines, ranging from several hundred to many thousands of dollars, which, as they may well be living below the poverty line, they cannot possibly afford.
The background is that it is all but impossible for Palestinians to get planning permission, so that any houses, or buildings which they need for infrastructure or for their livelihoods such as animal pens, have to be put up without permission. They are thus under constant threat of demolition. Indeed, more than 1,000 demolition orders have been sent out already this year.
At the same time the Israelis are continuing to build as they think fit on Palestinian land, developing the settlements and settlement roads which are contrary to international law, and enabling them to exploit all the resources and scope for urban, agricultural and economic development for themselves.
In South Africa, racism, apartheid, and oppression were brought to an end very largely by international pressure, not least from the United Kingdom. But when we see very similar evils being carried out by Israelis on Palestinians, we appear to be willing to stand idly by with no more than an occasional token handwringing.
This spike in house demolitions is surely the occasion for the Government, however belatedly, to start making clear to the Israeli Government that it is not an acceptable way for a Western Government to behave and must come to an immediate end.