Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Military Order 1797: A new method to demolish the homes of Palestinians living in Area C


By Alicia Ramos Perez - June 25, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [demolition] [Apartheid] [Area C] [permits]

The new order for legalizing mass demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C has been frozen until the final rule of the Israeli High Court. This was informed by Haqel, an organisation in defence of human rights. The military rule was supposed to enter into effect on June 17. 

Freezing the military order 1797 is a temporary triumph; however, if this order eventually becomes operational, it will complicate the current situation of Palestinian citizens in Area C and would diminish any chance they had to overrule Israel’s bigger plan to expel Palestinians in Area C. The freezing of the military order is a result of a petition that was lodged by Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC) and other Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations.
 
Israel has near exclusive control of Area C - covering 60 per cent of the whole West Bank. This includes law enforcement, construction and planning control. Area C allocates privileges and benefits to the illegal Israeli settlements in the area. It also allows the creation of military areas for the IDF.
 
In one hit, the military order will effectively repeal all Jordanian planning and constructing law which has previously been used throughout the whole West Bank.
 
The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, was informed the Military Order 1797 allows Israeli Civil Administration Officers to carry out demolitions in three cases; Israeli authorities can demolish uncompleted structures, structures that have been completed for less than six months, and structures that been inhabited for less than 30 days.
 
Military Order 1797 would basically cancel the right to hearing and appeal. The demolition act will be carried out within 96 hours of issuing the demolition petition. Palestinians would have to produce an approved master building plan within four days.
 
JLAC Defence Attorney Wa’il Qut, who works in demolition repeals in Area C, believes Military Order 1797 is “dangerous.” “If the military order passes, we will find ourselves in a more disastrous situation,” Qut told Palestine Monitor.
 
Followingly, Qut explained the four scenarios in which a Palestinian in Area C could file an objection to the demolition order. He emphasized how remotely impossible any of the four scenarios where, and how this law was orchestrated to avoid any kind of objection from the Palestinian’s side.
 
The first scenario where a Palestinian could oppose the demolition order is if she/he are in possession of a permit application. Qut confessed that the statistics for Palestinians obtaining such a permit are close to zero. “Palestinians in Area C have almost a 100% chance of not getting a permit from the Israelis, it is virtually impossible”. According to OCHA, Israel only approves 1.5 percent of Palestinian building applications.
 
The second scenario is if the building is within land that has an approved master plan. This is also impossible as most 'master plan land’ in Area C has already constructed. “There is no new master plan area that hasn’t been constructed already,” Qut stressed.
 
The third case; lawyers would have to prove that the building was completely constructed for more than six months prior to the demolition petition or the building was inhabited for more than a month after the completion of the building.
 
In the last case, a Palestinian could object the demolition order in the case that the Israeli administrative forces forgot about carrying out the demolition 120 days after issuing the order. “However, they can simply just issue a new demolition order, so, this also is impossible to avoid,” Qut repeated once again.
 
These exceptions are the critical proof that Palestinians are the main target in this new Military Order. As author Stephen Lendman stated in an interview with Palestine Monitor; “Palestinians suffer under the oppressive yoke of unlawful militarized rule where their fundamental rights are denied.”
 
Lendman emphasized the grave disparity in the law by which Palestinians in the West Bank have to live. “Israelis are governed by civil law, Palestinians are ruled by military law. This new military order is ethnic cleansing.” According to PeaceNow, since 2017, Israeli officials have approved nearly 14,000 new settlement units in the West Bank.
 
As Lendman explained, the intentions behind this military order is to have the highest number of Palestinians internally displaced into area A, to allow Jewish settler development. “[Military order 1797] gives Israel a pretext to bulldoze Palestinian homes.”
 
During the interview with Attorney Qut, he mentioned; “The only group that will benefit from this military order is the settlers who live in the West Bank and have built illegally. The only communities that have approved master plans are the settlers.”
 
He also added that objection among the settlers towards the military order was easier, since some of the Civil Administrators and inspectors are settlers themselves. “Here is the clear discriminatory face of this military order. This will force Palestinians to move.”
 
Attorney Qut listed the several international laws Israel was violating through the Military Order 1797. The list included Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which states that the forcible transfer of occupied populations is a crime against humanity. Article 43 of 1907 Hague Regulations, which requires the occupying force to respect the laws of the occupied territories, in this case, the Jordanian Planning and Construction Law.
 
Amira Hass writing for Haaretz also critically assessed the nature of this order. “This negates the existing planning and building system in the West Bank and abolishes the right to appeal against planned demolitions or obtain a permit retroactively,” Hass wrote.
 
Qut finally added: “If there is ambiguity in the law, Israel will take their side. We are doing legal interventions, but this is not the solution.”
 
As mentioned by Attorney Qut, there are at least four more military orders that are supposed to come into force in the West Bank. If these laws were enforced, any kind of Palestinian activity would be criminalised.
 

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