Israel’s Honed Policy of House Demolitions and Land-Grab The Increasingly-Frequently-Used Policy of the Apartheid Regime: the Demolition of Palestinian Homes to Set the Stage for Expansion of Israeli Settlements and Land and Resource Grab. Israel’s policy of house demolitions seeks to confine Palestinians to small enclaves, leaving most of the land free for Israeli settlement. --ICAHD [Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions]
<ul><li>Article 53 of the 4 th Geneva Convention reads: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons…is prohibited." </li></ul><ul><li>Under this provision the practice of demolishing Palestinian houses is banned, as is the wholesale destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure. </li></ul><ul><li>[http://www.icahd.org/eng/faq.asp?menu=9&submenu=1 ] </li></ul>
<ul><li>House Demolition Stats and Facts </li></ul><ul><li>--from ICAHD </li></ul><ul><li>Houses demolished since the Occupation began: </li></ul><ul><li>Since 1967, 18,000 houses Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem: </li></ul><ul><li>At least 6,000 houses were demolished immediately following the 1967 war. Four entire villages were razed in the Latrun area (now known as “ Canada Park ”), while hundreds of ancient homes were destroyed in the Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City to create a plaza for the Wailing Wall. </li></ul><ul><li>Why is it a problem for East Jerusalem Palestinians to obtain housing permits? </li></ul><ul><li>Since 1967, Israel has created a "Greater" Jerusalem which controls the entire central portion of the West Bank and cuts economic heart out of Palestinian state. While constructing 90,000 housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem, the municipality has intentionally created a shortage of 25,000 housing units for Palestinians. … to maintain a 72%-28% majority of Jews over Arabs – a racist policy that no Jews in the world would accept & to confine the Palestinian population to small islands – the Arabs make up a third of the Jerusalem population, but only have access to 7% of the urban land. </li></ul>
A Village Near Bethlehem: Over 60 Homes and one Mosque Slated for Demolition in Village; Numerous Houses Previously Demolished. The land of Walaja village, just east of Bethlehem, has been annexed into Jerusalem municipality. Israel gets the land, Palestinians get nothing .
After their home was demolished for the first time in January 2006, the family lived for two months—in winter—in this tent. Demolitions come very early in the morning, with little to no advance warning: “ Imagine sleeping in your home and someone knocks on your door telling you to get out of your house, that it will be demolished. You have no time to take your clothes, to take anything. It is all destroyed.”
Using their own money, they re-built their home. It was demolished a 2 nd time in December, 2006. The Holy Land Trust and ICAHD came together to re-build their house yet again. There is a great likelihood it will yet again be demolished by the Israeli government and Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
Neighbours came to watch re-building efforts, intimately familiar re-building efforts, along with intimately familiar frustration and sorrow. One neighbour has been in court for 12 years, protesting the illegal demolition of his home by the IOF. He has spent vast amounts in court fees and still does not have the right to build anything on his property: not even a chicken coop—the chickens stay, instead, inside an old van. Although Israel’s arbitrary and self-serving laws are absurdly transparent, no one holds Israel accountable for its actions.
<ul><li>What are the reasons given by the Israeli government for demolishing Palestinian homes? </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of house demolitions are conducted for 'Administrative' reasons and are generally because the house was built without a permit. However permits are almost impossible to obtain by Palestinians living under Occupation. </li></ul><ul><li>--[source: ICAHD ] </li></ul>Homes demolished for the Apartheid Wall and land-grab at Tulkarem, Western West Bank.
<ul><li>Are expulsions of Palestinians legal under international law? </li></ul><ul><li>It is forbidden to deport or "forcibly transfer," the local population, including such common Israeli practices as revoking the Jerusalem residency of Palestinians or banning Palestinians from returning from work, study or travel abroad. [Articles 35 & 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention]. </li></ul><ul><li>--[source: ICAHD ] </li></ul>
<ul><li>Internationals learned more than they gave; learned from local Palestinians who’ve been through this re-building process numerous times before. </li></ul>
Down-sized <ul><li>At less than ½ the original size, the house goes up in two weeks’ time and work. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Surrounded : the village is surrounded and cut off by an Israeli settlement and its Israeli-only Bypass Road, and by the Apartheid Wall, which will cross property where house stands. Together, these Israeli annexation and segregation devices will completely isolate this and other villages. </li></ul>Co-existence: The region, near Bethlehem, saw Muslims and Christians live together without problems. New Israeli laws and restrictions serve to isolate the village from a nearby monastery down the road.
<ul><li>Did Israel continue building by-pass roads after the Oslo process began? </li></ul><ul><li>During the Oslo negotiations Israel began building a massive system of 480 kilometers of Israel-only "by-pass" roads, at a cost of $3 billion. The project continues to this day (May 2002), creating "facts on the ground" that make the de facto incorporation of the West Bank into Israel irreversible.. </li></ul><ul><li>Why are the West Bank by-pass roads important? </li></ul><ul><li>Since 1967, Israel has built 350 kilometers of highways and by-pass roads in the West Bank, linking the settlements to Israel proper while creating barriers to Palestinian movement. Today (May, 2002) Palestinians are unable to move and work freely, to market their goods, to live normal lives. </li></ul>
<ul><li>A neighbour, his home also under threat of demolition, charts the changes--decreases-- in village boundaries over the years. Well-informed, he holds numerous documents regarding the legality of their land ownership, and is well-versed in the illegality of Israel’s land-grab policies. </li></ul>
Sharing the details of their various house demolitions, assaults by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces), harassment by soldiers and police alike, and frustration at the unaccountability of Israeli law with regard to Palestinian rights.
Some of the internationals re-building and learning from their Palestinian hosts.
“ This is your home now. You are welcome here.” <ul><li>The couple in question. </li></ul><ul><li>Their strength, perseverance —in the face of such obstacles—and humour is inspiring, humbling. </li></ul>
House Demolition Stats and Facts -- from ICAHD <ul><li>During the seven years of the Oslo negotiations, the Palestinian Authority achieved control of only 18% of the West Bank and 60% of Gaza – far from the idea of two states on which Oslo was based. </li></ul><ul><li>During the Oslo negotiations (1993-2000) , the Jerusalem municipality and the [Israeli] Ministry of Interior demolished almost 300 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem . </li></ul><ul><li>Almost 1,700 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories were demolished by the Civil Administration during the course of the Oslo peace process (1993-2000) </li></ul>
House Demolition Stats and Facts <ul><li>Since September 2000, about 5000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed in [Israeli] military operations. Tens of thousands of other homes have been left uninhabitable . Altogether around 50,000 people have been left homeless . </li></ul><ul><li>Wells, water storage pools and water pumps which provided water for drinking, irrigation and other needs for thousands of people, have also been destroyed, along with tens of kilometers of irrigation networks. </li></ul><ul><li>During the same period (Sept. 2000-May 2007) about 1900 Palestinian homes have been demolished by the [Israeli] Civil Administration for lack of proper permits . </li></ul><ul><li>More than 628 Palestinian homes have been demolished during the second Intifada as collective punishment and “deterrence” affecting families of people known or suspected of involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians. On average 12 innocent people lose their home for every person “punished” for a security offense – and in half of the cases the occupants had nothing whatsoever to do with the acts in question. T he Israeli government insists its policies are pursued to “deter” potential terrorists, although 79% of the suspected offenders were either dead or in detention at the time of the demolition . </li></ul>
While the home ICAHD had chosen to re-build was under construction, the IOF bulldozed a smaller home in the area for no reason. ICAHD spontaneously decided to re-build the demolished home at the same time as the project underway. Seen from inside the house being re-built by ICAHD, a newly demolished home in the valley.
<ul><li>A professor, this man has come for three summers to re-build homes demolished by the IOF and Israel’s government. </li></ul><ul><li>He lends his physical labour here, and advocates for change back home, lobbying his government representatives and holding awareness-raising events. </li></ul>
He has tried 4 times to obtain the necessary permit to build a home on his own land. Each attempt cost him US $5,000. Each attempt was rejected, for ever-changing reasons, by the Israeli government. His first home was demolished after 2.5 years. The IOF, upon arriving to demolish the home in the early hours of the morning, threw tear gas canisters into the house where his family was asleep. He was badly beaten. None of this is unusual.