Monday, November 20, 2017

Israel violates International Humanitarian Law by destruction of Palestinian-owned structures


By Mona Martin - January 27, 2015
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Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
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A Palestinian house demolished in Bet Hanina. Photo (archive) by Lazar Simeonov.

From January 13th to 19th Israeli authorities demolished four Palestinian structures in Area C of the occupied West Bank and delivered 15 stop work orders due to lack of compulsory Israeli-issued building permits, according to a report published by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel's obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension. They must stop immediately," according to OCHA’s latest report. 

This kind of condemnation is nothing new. According to OCHA’s report, in 2014 Israeli authorities destroyed an average of 10 Palestinian buildings a week in either East Jerusalem or Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civil control. Various reports on the destruction of Palestinian-owned structures by humanitarian organisations from the likes of Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Diakonia and Human Rights Watch buoy OCHA’s findings.

Bedouins are regarded as the poorest inhabitants of the West Bank, frequently living under the most precarious of conditions. They often reside in remote areas, cut off from essential public services such as hospitals, running water and electricity. Often times the small compositions of tents and tin shacks are jammed between Israeli settlements, exposed to settler attacks and under constant threat of being replaced by a road connecting the settlements.

Some of the housing infrastructure destroyed by Israeli military was built with materials provided by international humanitarian organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In January 2014 the ICRC decided to resign from delivering tents to Palestinians living in the Jordan valley due to the Israeli military’s continued hinderance of delivery. Tents provided to Palestinian residents in need of emergency alternative housing were repeatedly confiscated and destroyed by the Israeli military. Be it the withholding of materials or destruction of buildings, such measures leave thousands without adequate shelter and livelihood.

Israel legitimizes the destruction of Palestinian structures with their illegality. The fact is that most of the affected buildings were built without Israeli-issued construction permits. What's left unsaid, however, is that these permissions are almost always out of reach, as they are regularly denied to Palestinian applicants. 

“Israeli authorities have zoned 13 percent of East Jerusalem for Palestinian construction, but expropriated 35 percent of the area for settlement construction. Israeli authorities in practice permit Palestinian construction in only one percent of Area C,” according to a report by Human Rights Watch. 

According to the leading Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Israeli authorities have allocated 63 percent of Area C to settlements.

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