co-written by: Ahmad Jaradat
Any observer following the events unfolding in the occupied Palestinian territories will notice countless human rights violations. These include the violation of basic rights such as right of movement, right of education, right of health treatment, rights of women, rights of children, rights of working, and most importantly the fundamental rights to live and have shelter.
The right of housing is a basic right of humans. Since the first days of the occupation, the Israeli Authority has systematically destroying Palestinian homes. Military orders were issued to justify such violations. For supposed ‘security reasons’ thousands of houses were demolished throughout the occupied territories. The family home of any Palestinian arrested in suspicion of involvement in militant activity is regularly demolished. It is seen as a kind of collective punishment against all families as well as Israel’s method of suppression, despite the fact that this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and all humanitarian laws.
Another justification used by Israel for its home demolition policy is based around the notion that those houses have been built illegally without permission. Thousands of houses have been demolished under the rationale of that argument. These days, Israel’s use of licensing violations as the justification for home demolitions is increasing in the West Bank. A few months ago tens of houses were demolished in an area south of Hebron and more houses were put on a list for future demolition. More than ten houses were demolished or given demolition orders in Walaja village west of Bethlehem. Last week, three houses were demolished in Khader village, and more orders were given to Palestinian families in the northern West Bank villages of Masha and Wadi Maleh. The same zoning and administrative excuses were given for the demolition orders issued in the East Jerusalem Palestinian village of Silwan.
Large demonstrations took place yesterday in Borgeen village in the north of West Bank in objection to Israel’s home demolition policy. Internationalists from the Solidarity Movement and Israelis from peace groups participated in the demonstration. Many houses in the area have already been demolished and the Military Authority issued orders to demolish 18 more. The ways in which this affects the life of thousands of Palestinians who have fallen victim to Israel’s home demolition policy are immeasurable. The families whose houses were demolished are living in tents and caves, or in the crowded homes of their relatives. While home demolitions hamper the entire family’s ability to carry out their daily activities, Palestinian children suffer the greatest emotional trauma from witnessing their homes demolished.
This policy has intensified in the areas of the occupied territories where settlement projects are under way. There is a direct link between the settlement expansion projects and the house demolition operations for license reasons. In every case the Israeli government has demolished, or has approved plans to demolish, Palestinian homes in areas strategically needed for future settlement expansion plans or the route of the separation wall. This is particularly apparent in Alkhader, in an area south of Hebron, where three houses were demolished last week and ten more are listed to be demolished. An Israeli settler road is in the process of being built in that exact area. The Israeli government continues its efforts to expand settlements and demolish Palestinian neighborhoods in the West Bank at a time when it is supposedly involved in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. These policies contradict Israel’s stated interest in negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Israel’s peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and withdrawal from Gaza can therefore only be seen as an effort to distract the international community at a time when human rights violations are taking place in the occupied territories.
Posted By AIC 2005 Fellow
Posted Aug 3rd, 2005