Israeli house demolitions are the true crime — not BDS


Celebration of house demolition, by Israeli border police and IDF officer, July 22, 2019. Screenshot from video.

Mohamed Mohamed, Mondoweiss, July 26, 2019

Israel is at it again. It remains consistent in engaging in one of its favorite activities: stealing Palestinian land and tormenting Palestinians.

On Monday, Israeli bulldozers, escorted by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, demolished no less than 16 residential buildings containing around 100 apartments in the village of Sur Baher, which is on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.

Israel’s reasoning for demolishing these homes is that they are too close to its “separation wall” (or more accurately, the Israeli apartheid wall), and it claims that the homes pose a security risk. This is not surprising, because Israel’s “security” is commonly cited as an excuse to steal Palestinian land and resources, and to impose full control over every aspect of the lives of Palestinians.

Correspondents reporting from the demolition area described seeing homeowners watch with horror as their homes turned into dust.

Let that sink in. Imagine your own home being destroyed in front of your eyes while you are powerless to do anything to stop its demolition by armed soldiers. Living under military occupation, there is no insurance to reimburse you or to rebuild your house on the land that rightfully belongs to you.

Even the American concept of “eminent domain,” where your property could be taken by the government for public use, although with “just” compensation, does not apply. In the US, no one would ever accept such a despicable injustice and outright theft.

But this is the reality that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem (and throughout Palestine) face. One man who has four children said that when their house is demolished, they will become homeless and forced to live in the streets.

To see how Israeli demolition of homes and theft of Palestinian land is done out of spite, cruelty, and cold-heartedness, rather than “security,” one only has to watch this video.

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Stop Palestinian Home Demolitions!

The morning of Monday, July 22, 2019, Palestinian families in the village of Sur Baher woke up to the sound of bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli troops that had been ordered to oversee the destruction of their homes. Israeli demolition crews are now in the process of destroying 16 Palestinian apartment buildings, totaling 100 home units in East Jerusalem, under the justification that the homes were too close to the Separation wall. Israel says the homes are a “security” risk. 

The demolitions are part of an ongoing policy where Israel is bent on controlling the demographics of East Jerusalem in order to maintain a Jewish majority. When Israel built its Separation wall, they built it to place the Palestinian Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Baher inside Israel, even though legally it’s part of the West Bank. Israel denied the community building permits and then when the Palestinian Authority gave permits to the families, Israel declared they had the right to demolish the homes — most of the homes were built by hand, stone by stone. 

The displacement of people (via home demolitions) is a war crime and 2020 candidates should speak out against it.

Send a message to the 2020 candidates: speak out against Israel’s demolishing of Sur Baher. 

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Hundreds Lose Shelter as Israeli Forces Destroy Housing Units in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Ref: 89/2019, July 22, 2019

On Monday morning, 22 July 2019, Israeli military forces launched a large-scale destruction operation against civilian property in Wadi al-Humus neighborhood, in Sour Baher, south of occupied East Jerusalem. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and machinery carried out the destructions that resulted in hundreds of civilians losing their shelter. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this crime against civilians and considers it on par for ethnic cleansing, and holds the Israeli government accountable for escalating the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). PCHR calls upon the international community to hold its legal and moral responsibility and intervene effectively to stop Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians and to provide necessary protection.

According to PCHR’s documentation, at approximately 2:00 on Monday, 22 July 2019, hundreds of Israeli soldiers moved into Sour Baher village with dozens of construction vehicles. They stationed in Wadi al-Humus neighborhood, closed its entrances and cut all power supplies. Israeli soldiers then forcefully vacated buildings in the neighborhood, used physical violence against them and banned them from taking any of their belongings with them. At approximately 06:00, destruction machinery took to work and preliminary numbers assert that at least 8 houses and buildings were destroyed, and explosives were planted in a 10-story building in order to destroy it. The destroyed houses include:

  1. Isma’il ‘Ebeidiyah: a 2-sotry house built on 250 square meters and sheltering a 7-member family, including 5 children;
  2. Ghaleb Hawan and his son Monther: a 2-story house built on 210 square meters and sheltering a 10-member family, including 6 children;
  3. Belal al-Kiswani: a 1-story house sheltering a 5-member family, including 3 children;
  4. ‘Alaa’ ‘Amirah: a 2-story house built on 400 square meters (uninhabited)
  5. Mohammed Idris Abu Teir: a 7-story building comprised of 40 residential apartments (under-construction)
  6. Ja’afar Abu Hamed: a 1-story house (under-construction);
  7. Mohammed Salem al-Atrash: a 4-sotry building (under-construction); and
  8. ‘Ali Khalil Hamadah: a 4-sotry building (under-construction)

It should be mentioned that on 13 June 2019, the Israeli High Court approved the Israeli military’s decision to demolish 16 residential buildings comprised of 100 apartments in Wadi al-Humus neighborhood under the pretext of being near the annexation wall which was established on the village’s lands.  On 20 June 2019, the Israeli forces handed tens of residents notices to self-demolish their property by 18 July or the Israeli forces will later do so.  On 21 July 2019, the Israeli High Court rejected the appeal filed by the residents to freeze the demolition orders, and within hours the Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood and started the demolitions.

Wadi al-Humus neighborhood (area: 3,000 dunums; population: 6000) is located on the edge of Sour Baher, south of occupied East Jerusalem.  The neighbourhood is not within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and most of its lands are classified in Area A that is under full control of the Palestinian Authority according to the Oslo Accords; thus, the buildings’ owners obtained construction licences from the Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance.  Following the construction of the annexation wall in 2003, the neighbourhood was split as some houses ended up in the Israeli side but not under jurisdiction of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem.

PCHR deeply condemns the Israeli forces’ violations against Wadi al-Humus neighbourhood and affirms that:

First: the international community’s silence towards the Israeli violations, especially the destruction of an entire neighbourhood and displacement of its residents, reflects the inability of international bodies to protect international humanitarian law, as well as hundreds of United Nations resolutions issued over the past seven decades relevant to the Palestinian cause.

Second: PCHR reiterates that the Israeli judicial system, including the High Court, acts in support of the occupation and legitimizes its violations of IHL when the issues concern Palestinian victims.

Third: PCHR stresses that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all measures taken by Israel since 1967 do not change its legal status as an occupied territory.

Fourth: Article (49) of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention prohibited the Individual or mass forcible transfer or deportation of persons from their places of residence, unless it was for their own interest, such as protecting them from the dangers of armed conflicts. Article 7.1.d of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court stipulates that Deportation or forcible transfer of population be considered a crime against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. This is also emphasized in articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute.

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500 Palestinian families in Jerusalem are about to have their homes destroyed

Action is needed to protect them and tens of thousands more who risk losing their homes under Israel’s devastating home demolition policies.

Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Apr 19, 2019

Israeli’s home demolition policy has led to the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes (like this one in Hebron in the West Bank) and the forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians.

Tears streaming down her face, the little girl in front of me crawled over the ruins of her home looking for toys and school books that could be salvaged from among the rubble and destruction. The night before, the Israeli army had evacuated her family from their house, set explosives, and destroyed their home.

It was 2001, and it was the first time I witnessed the devastation wrought by Israel’s decades-old home demolition policy. During the nearly two decades since then, I’ve talked with hundreds of Palestinians who have been forced out of their homes by the Israeli government. Their stories are all unique, but the result of Israel’s home demolition policy is always the same – destruction and suffering within families and communities.

Just last week, the Israeli High Court ruled that the government can move forward with the demolition of 60 buildings in Jerusalem that are home to over 500 Palestinian families. Demolitions have already begun, and thousands of Palestinians will be left without homes if this move is not stopped.

The remains of homes demolished in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSCThe remains of homes demolished in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSC

The Israeli government justifies these demolitions by claiming that the homes in question were built illegally without permits from the city. But for decades, the city has refused to approve zoning plans for Palestinian areas of Jerusalem, making it impossible for Palestinian residents to obtain permits and leaving them no choice but to build without permission. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, there are now over 20,000 housing units built without permits in East Jerusalem, all of which are at risk of demolition.

At the same time, the Jerusalem municipality is moving to retroactively approve construction carried out by the settler group Elad in the same neighborhood from which these 500 Palestinian families will soon be displaced.

This forced displacement will not just traumatize families, it will destroy a whole community. During the seven years I lived and worked in the West Bank, I saw this happen over and over – and I documented the harmful impacts. In 2008, I received an update from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that a home was being demolished in East Jerusalem, near the office where I worked. I traveled to the scene of the demolition and saw devastated family members break down as they watched the walls of their home fall.

At the time I was managing a program to assist Palestinian families whose homes were destroyed by Israel. Through our interviews with families, it became clear that the demolitions had deep, long-term negative impacts on family structures – increasing poverty and unemployment, raising levels of domestic violence, disrupting education, and leading to severe trauma for all those impacted.

A resident digs out belongings from the ruins of his destroyed home in Jenin. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSCA resident digs out belongings from the ruins of his destroyed home in Jenin. Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze/AFSC

The demolition of 60 buildings in Jerusalem that was recently approved is unusual in its scale, but it is not unique. In the West Bank, tens of communities – including Umm Al-Khair, Susiya, and Khan al-Ahmar – remain under threat of complete destruction.

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Hello from Palestine

Operation Dove, 2/13/19


Facebook video: Israel Destroys South Hebron Hills Water Piping

Today Israeli forces destroyed and confiscated underground pipes in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Khallet Athaba, Ar Rakeez and Al-Mufaqarah. Soldiers detained the mayor of the Palestinian village of Tuwani and the head of the council of Masaffer Yatta. The confiscation has disrupted the water supply to villages and schools throughout Masafer Yatta.

The eight villages in Masafer Yatta lie within an area of Palestinian land claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918, and used by the Israeli military as a practice area. Many of the villages within the zone have received Israeli demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings and schools.