Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Freedom of Information request reveals demolition uncertainty in Area C

By Cath And - September 08, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [demolition] [UN]

Freedom of Information request reveals demolition uncertainty in Area C


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (UN OCHA) has discovered through a freedom of information request via the Israeli authorities that more than 11,000 demolition orders are currently "outstanding" in Area C of the Palestinian West Bank.


The orders, including homes, affect an estimated 17,000 Palestinian owned structures in Area C, the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank currently under full Israeli civilian and military control.


UN OCHA obtained the figures from Israeli Civil Administration (COGAT) through an Israeli NGO. The data sets, which include all demolition orders dating from 1988, include both Palestinian owned structures and Israeli owned structures which are part of the Israeli settlement infrastructure deemed in contravention to international law by the international community and the United Nations.


Out of the more than 14,000 demolition orders against Palestinian structures in Area C which came into effect between 1988 and 2014, close to 11,000 remain 'on hold’ due to legal issues or having been designated 'in process,’ the meaning of which is unclear.  


This 'outstanding’ status has left thousands of Palestinians unable to predict the future of their homes and villages. Area C is home to approximately 330,000 Israeli settlers and 300,000 Palestinians. The area is under full Israeli civilian and military control, with COGAT holding full regulatory authority over planning, and by extension, demolitions.


COGAT’s justification for issuing demolition orders generally relates to the fact that few Palestinian structures are built in Area C with Israeli permission.


Israeli authorities maintain that demolition orders are a “legitimate measure of law enforcement”, citing the Jordanian legislation in force in the West Bank and Article 43 of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws an Customs of War on Land of 1907 which requiring an occupying power to ensure 'public order and safety’


However, according to the UN OCHA report, through a lack of adequate planning and discriminatory allocation of public land, “it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in most of Area C.”


COGAT is also responsible in Area C for the planning of Israeli settlements and thus the demolition of unauthorised settlement constructions.


The UN OCHA report shows a vast imbalance in the rates of both development and demolitions of Israeli and Palestinian constructions. Less than 1% of Area C is planned for Palestinians compared to the 8.5% approved for Israeli settlements.  


Considering the size of both populations, UN OCHA notes that within Area C, the planned area per Israeli settler is 13 times the size of that allowed per Palestinian.  Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is considered a major obstacle to reaching a lasting peace agreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.


Comprising 60 percent of the West Bank, Area C contains the vast share of land available for Palestinian development and agriculture.  As both the largest and only undivided area of the West Bank, UN OCHA notes that any sizeable constructions such as electricity networks and roads must run through Area C, and thus require a planning permit from the COGAT.  


A recent World Bank report has predicted that allowing development in Area C could add up to 35% to Palestinian GDP.  For these reasons, the unbalanced and unstable planning situation in Area C has far reaching consequences, beyond the residents of the area itself.



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